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Late fightback is too little, too late for Ireland

Ireland came up just short despite a late comeback as France won the Women's Six Nations Championship and the Grand Slam for the first time since 2005.

Philip Doyle's side were forced to defend for large periods of the game, but their late flurry wasn't enough as France edged an enthralling game 19-15 in front of an estimated 12,000 strong crowd in Pau.

France went into the game having not conceded a single try in the campaign as well as keeping Scotland, Wales and Italy scoreless.

The game looked to be beyond Ireland when Shannon Izar touched down under the posts 10 minutes after the restart for a 19-3 lead, but two late Gill Bourke tries gave them hope of springing an unlikely comeback.

France came flying out of the traps and wasted little time in making their early dominance count. Winger Marion Lievre, who has been in terrific try scoring form throughout the campaign touched down for the game's first points after just five minutes.

The home side continued to dominate as Ireland struggled to get a foothold in the game. France should have doubled their advantage, but Claire Molloy brilliantly managed to hold Safi N'Diaye up when it looked like the No.8 would score.

That scrambled, last ditch defence became a common theme throughout the first half, but to their credit, Ireland held firm as France took just a 5-0 lead into the break.

Ireland did have Championship hopes of their own but needed a 20-point win, which was always going to be a tough ask against a French side who were seeking to exact revenge for last year's defeat in Ashbourne as well as the small matter of a Grand Slam.

France began the second half much like the first and it didn't take them long to add their second try of the game. They went through the phases before prop Elodie Portaries burrowed her way over for a try which Sandrine Agricole converted.

Niamh Briggs eventually got Ireland on the board when she slotted over a penalty, but France again hit back in brilliant fashion. Agricole's perfectly weighted pass put Izar under the posts. The fly half added the straightforward conversion for a 19-3 lead with Ireland looking dead and buried.

Ireland began to play their way back into it. Bourke crashed over from close range before she added her second try of the game after another superb rolling maul.

Briggs converted to set up a grand stand finish, but it proved to be too little too late and Ireland's search for their first ever win on French soil goes on as France were crowned Grand Slam champions.

e IRELAND were unable to deny France the under-20 Grand Slam as they went down 23-13.

Frankie Taggart scored Ireland's only try, which had drawn the teams level 14 minutes from time.

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