Ireland’s hopes of setting up a Six Nations women's decider against England next week were blown away at Energia Park as France ran in eight tries to two in a powerful performance.
It was always going to be an uphill battle for Ireland but the margin between the sides was a reality check.
Adam Griggs’ charges were chasing the game from the opening quarter and just could not match the sheer power of the French, who were dominant throughout the park.
Eight tries to two leaves little room for argument but the Kiwi felt that they contributed a lot to their own downfall.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge. I think we probably didn’t help ourselves. We compounded a good few errors certainly in that first half, their first two tries came from mistakes on our behalf.
“We have to take the learnings from that and realise when it’s on to play and when we have momentum we can play, but if you don’t you have to make sure you don’t play in your own half. A good quality side like France just punish you for that and they did.”
Amateur players taking on professionals is always going to throw up games with big margins but Griggs says Ireland will learn from these occasions.
“I think this group will get better with the more games you have. What we didn’t get last week was that line speed, that pressure from the French defence, certainly on our ball. Even when we were on defence we had to work really hard in the contact area, which takes it out of you.
“Compounding those errors, when you have entries into your own half as easy as that, kicks to the corner and being able to set up set-piece plays are so strong. That’s understanding the game. When is it on to have a go at the ball at rucks to slow it down and when do you have to get into your defensive line and put pressure on that way?”
The game was over as a contest by the interval with France running in five tries to lead 38-8 at half-time.
Ireland did start brightly and were rewarded with a penalty from Hannah Tyrrell but France’s power in the scrum and lineout had a big impact and they took control.
Caroline Boujard, who got a hat-trick in the 53-0 win over Wales, crossed for their opening try after 14 minutes after switching to the left wing and they never looked back after that.
In contrast, Ireland struggled to get Beibhinn Parsons, who crossed for two tries in their 45-0 victory over Wales, into the game as they just could not get the ball wide.
Full-back Emilie Boulard got over for their second try after 19 minutes and their excellent maul delivered a penalty try three minutes later and a yellow card for Irish lock Aoife McDermott to make it 21-3.
Ireland defended well when down to 14 and managed to cut the gap when hooker Cliodhna Moloney, after a neat ball to the front of the lineout, got over for a try to reduce the margin to 21-8 after 27 minutes.
Caroline Drouin added a penalty for the French and they turned the screw before the break with lock Safi N’Diaye and winger Cyrielle Banet getting over for tries to lead 38-8 at the break.
Boujard got her second try of the afternoon seven minutes after the restart and vastly experienced replacement Romane Menager extended the lead after coming on.
Both sides began emptying their benches with sevens player Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe among those to come on and make her 15s Irish debut, but she was binned for a high tackle on Boujard after a lengthy consultation with the TMO.
Drouin made it 51-8 with the resultant pen and they continued to drive forward with Banet getting her second try eight minutes from time.
There was some consolation five minutes from time for Ireland when a good maul after a penalty to the right corner yielded a try for replacement hooker Emma Hooban, which was superbly converted by Stacey Flood.
: E Considine; L Delany, E Higgins, S Naoupu, B Parsons; H Tyrrell, K Dane; L Peat, C Moloney, L Djougang; A McDermott, N Fryday; D Wall, C Molloy, C Griffin (C).
: B Hogan for McDermott 49 mins; A-L Murphy Crowe for Delany 49; E Lane for Dane 54; S Flood for Tyrrell 54; H O’Connor for Molloy 54; E Hooban for Moloney 59; K O’Dwyer for Peat 59; L Feely for Djougang 59.
E Boulard; C Boujard, C Neisen, J Ulutule, C Banet; C Drouin, L Sansus; A Deshaye, A Sochat, R Bernadou; M Fall, S N’Diaye; M Mayans, G Hermet (c), E Gros.
C Joyeux for Bernadou 49 mins; R Menager for Gros 49; C Diallo for Hermet 55; P Bourdon for Sansus 56; M Traoré for Deshaye 63; G Vernier for Neisen 63; L Touyé for Sochat 67; M Peyronnet for Boujard 67.
: S Cox (RFU).