Try-scoring hero Paula Fitzpatrick among six changes to Ireland team for crunch clash with France

There are six changes to the Ireland team to face Pool C leaders France in the sides’ crunch Women’s Rugby World Cup tie, writes Stephen Barry.

Ireland need a win to progress to the semi-finals and draft Paula Fitzpatrick, who scored two tries off the bench to rescue a win against Japan, into the back-row.

Leah Lyons earns her first start of the tournament, while Ailis Egan and Marie-Louise Reilly return to the pack. Cliodhna Moloney and Ciara O'Connor move to the bench, with Ciara Cooney and Claire Molloy left out of the matchday squad.

Nicole Cronin, who made her Test debut against Japan at the weekend, retains her place at scrum-half ahead of opening-day try-scorer Larissa Muldoon.

Jenny Murphy and Eimear Considine come into the backline for Katie Fitzhenry and Mairead Coyne, who is edged out of a bench spot by Louise Galvin.

France have the maximum ten points from two games, while Ireland have eight.

Ireland beat Australia and Japan by a combined 12 points, while France had a total of 106 points to spare across the two games, putting into context the scale of the challenge facing them at the UCD Bowl on Thursday (7.45pm kick-off).

They can find encouragement, though, in the fact they beat the French in the 6 Nations last February.

Ireland Women's Team to play France

15. Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)

14. Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)

13. Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)

12. Sene Naoupu (Harlequins FC)

11. Alison Miller (Old Belvedere RFC/Connacht)

10. Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)

9. Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)

1. Lindsay Peat (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)

2. Leah Lyons (Highfield RFC/Munster)

3. Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)

4. Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)

5. Marie-Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)

6. Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)

7. Claire Molloy (Bristol RFC/Connacht) Captain

8. Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary's College RFC/Leinster)

Replacements:

16. Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)

17. Ruth O'Reilly (Galwegians RFC/Connacht)

18. Ciara O'Connor (Galwegians RFC/Connacht)

19. Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke RFC/Ulster)

20. Heather O'Brien (Highfield RFC/Munster)

21. Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union RFC/Ulster)

22. Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)

23. Louise Galvin (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)


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