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Ireland's bright campaign has ended on a sour note

By Cian Tracey

It's the end of an era. Ireland's World Cup campaign which had begun with so much promise ended in a 25-18 defeat in yesterday's play-off against hosts France, meaning Philip Doyle's side had to settle for a fourth place finish.

Ireland were much improved after last week's poor showing against England, but ultimately it was France's superior power and strength that saw them claim third spot.

Ireland went into the game without the inspirational Lynne Cantwell after she was ruled out with concussion and her experience was severely missed.

Grace Davitt's moment of brilliance on the stroke of half time had Ireland 15-12 ahead, but France then dominated.

It was Doyle's last game in charge while several of the key players including captain Fiona Coghlan, who has been at the heart of the Irish side for the last decade, have played their last game in a green jersey.

"Obviously today was a little bit emotional because it's the last game," she reflected afterwards.

"My first World Cup was in 2006 and I suppose we were lucky to finish eighth.

"The last World Cup we finished seventh. But in the last three years, we've moved the game on so much. The standard of the players coming into the game now is great, and to finish fourth for Ireland is a great place to be. It bodes well," Coghlan added.

Ireland began positively as they took the game to the home side.

Paula Fitzpatrick carried well from the base of the scrum and after patiently going through the phases, the ball eventually found its way to Niamh Briggs who finished a well worked try.

Briggs added the conversion as Ireland opened up a 7-0 lead.

But the French soon found a way through when their skipper Gaelle Mignot touched down. Sandrine Agricole levelled the scores with the conversion.

Ireland responded in fine fashion with Briggs firing over a penalty to put her side back in front, but it didn't take France long to hit back.

After working their way through the phases, Jessy Tremouliere scored their second try. Ireland had the final say of the half when Davitt created a try out of nothing. She collected her own clever kick in behind the French defence before racing away.

Briggs' conversion came back off the post but Ireland led 15-12.

France came out firing in the second half and Elodie Guiglion touched down after 47 minutes.

Briggs put Ireland back in front with a penalty but that was good as it got for Doyle's side though as their indiscipline in scrums cost them territory as well as points on the board.

Tremouliere kicked a 66th minute penalty before Guiglion sealed the win with her second try.

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