The Ireland Women put in their most complete performance of the weekend to record a comprehensive 31-0 win over Italy in the 7th-8th place play-off at the FIRA/AER European Women's Sevens Grand Prix tournament in Moscow.
Two young players who have a lot of potential in the game, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Hannah Tyrrell, were in fine try-scoring form as Ireland signed off in the Russian capital with a runaway win.
Murphy Crowe used her pace on the outside to score a brace of tries and snappy scrum half Nicole Cronin added a third for a 17-0 half-time advantage over Italy.
Tyrrell, the Dublin Ladies Gaelic football goalkeeper, matched Murphy Crowe's tally with a couple of well-taken tries in the second half to ensure a winning finish for the girls in green, who are back in action next weekend in the second round of the Grand Prix Series in Brive.
Day two of the 12-team event in Moscow had started in disappointing fashion for Jon Skurr's side as they fell 29-0 to a strong England outfit - the eventual champions - in the Cup quarter-finals.
That put them into the Plate competition where they met close rivals Spain, whom they defeated at the Amsterdam leg of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series recently.
Ireland had the first opportunity to attack as Siobhan Barrett and Claire Keohane carried forward, but Spain hit the front in the fourth minute through Africa Felez Barragan despite some determined tackling from Tyrrell and Nikki Caughey.
Patricia Garcia converted and as Ireland struggled for territory, the Spanish almost scored from a late counter before the half-time hooter. It took tenacious defending from Cronin and Barrett to force a handling error.
Ireland continued to work hard in defence with Tyrrell producing an important tackle just a couple of metres out. However, from the ensuing ruck, Garcia ghosted through on the blindside to dot down in the left corner.
Skurr's charges finally got on the front foot thanks to a lovely switch between Laura Lee Walsh and Barrett which sent the tall Tralee player striding into the Spanish half.
The breakthrough came in the final minute when the nippy Murphy Crowe sprinted over from the right to close the gap. Keohane added the extras for a 12-7 scoreline, but time ran out on Ireland's comeback bid.
Next up were the Italians in a battle for seventh place overall, and it was evident right from the off that Ireland had the beating of them.
Just 55 seconds in, Murphy Crowe ran in a tremendous solo try from her right wing station as she evaded three defenders on the way to the line. Keohane converted for an early 7-0 advantage.
Ireland showed good width as Murphy Crowe threatened again on the right before Walsh unfortunately knocked on with space to exploit on the opposite wing.
Nonetheless, Clanwilliam's Murphy Crowe soon added to Ireland's lead in the fifth minute, burning off a defender on the outside for her fourth try of the tournament.
Ireland were dominating possession at this point with the leaping Walsh doing well to win restarts or disrupt the Italians and force mistakes.
Shannon Houston, a dynamic presence as captain, was just help up after Cronin injected some pace by quickly tapping two penalties in succession.
The third try arrived just before the interval as Tyrrell ran strongly in midfield and the ball was moved to the left at pace for Barrett to send Cronin over in the corner.
Tyrrell and Murphy Crowe were full of running and launched Ireland forward on the restart. Two minutes in, Cronin found a gap with some good footwork and closer in Tyrrell used her strength to stretch over just to the left of the posts. Keohane's conversion made it 24-0.
Ireland then built from deep for their fifth and final try as Barrett recovered an Italian kick in the 22. Good distribution led to Tyrrell slicing through on the left and she stepped inside the final defender to run in a cracking score which Caughey converted.
Tyrrell showed her worth in defence too, putting in an excellent tackle to halt a dangerous Italian break late on. The five tries-to-one outcome will have pleased coach Skurr who will be hoping for further improvements in France next time out.
Meanwhile, a mention must go to retired number 8 Joy Neville, a key member of last year's Ireland Women's Grand Slam-winning team.
She continued her development as a referee at the Moscow tournament and did a fine job when taking charge of the Cup semi-final between Russia and Portugal and the 3rd/4th place play-off between the Netherlands and Portugal.
IRELAND WOMEN'S SEVENS Squad (FIRA/AER European Women's Sevens Grand Prix Tournament, Luzhniki Olympic Complex, Moscow, Russia, June 7-8):
1. Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster) (capt) 2. Martina McCarthy (St. Mary's/Talent ID Programme) 3. Elaine Ryan (Talent ID Programme) 4. Nicole Cronin (Shannon/Munster) 5. Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster) 6. Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 7. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Clanwilliam/Munster) 8. Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster) 9. Nikki Caughey (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) 10. Siobhan Barrett (Tralee/Munster) 11. Laura Lee Walsh (Talent ID Programme) 12. Susan Vaughan (Railway Union/Leinster)
POOL B - Saturday, June 7
IRELAND 7 Portugal 10 IRELAND 22 Belgium 15 England 34 IRELAND 5
The game of the weekend in the Women's All-Ireland League was surely the clash of sixth versus seventh at Stradbrook as Blackrock and Cooke treated fans to a fantastic ten tries between them, writes Aisling Crowe.
Garryowen and Terenure College were the only teams to move up the table in round 13 of Ulster Bank League Division 1A, although bonus point wins for leaders Lansdowne and defending champions Clontarf saw them gain slight ground on their top four rivals.
25 unanswered first half points put Old Belvedere on their way to a 44-14 Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final victory over Ballynahinch at Anglesea Road. 'Belvo will meet defending champions Cork Constitution in the final at the end of April.
The sun shone on Co. Carlow Rugby Club last Sunday as the Aviva Mini Rugby Festival rolled into town. It was a chance for the hundreds of boys and girls to enjoy a day of fantastic rugby and to tell us who their favourite rugby players are.
The Aviva Mini Rugby Festival visited UL Bohemians last Saturday and it was fun-filled day for the hundreds of boys and girls taking part. There was also a special guest appearance from Ireland Women's captain and UL Bohs favourite Niamh Briggs.
Maeve McMahon, Director of Customer Experience and Products, Ulster Bank, talks about another successful Ulster Bank League Awards night which saw 14 individual awards presented to players, coaches and PROs from across the island.
Cork Constitution lock Conor Kindregan was voted the Ulster Bank League Division 1A Player of the Year, picking up the honour from Joe Schmidt at this week's Ulster Bank League Awards in the Aviva Stadium.
Ahead of the the Ulster Bank League Division 1A final, we spoke to Blayney Russell of Clontarf and Peter Good of Cork Constitution about the big match and how the two clubs have fared this season at every level.
Ben Reilly wants his Clontarf side to show the kind of form that put them top of the league this season but he knows that Cork Con will offer a serious physical challenge in the Ulster Bank League final in Sunday. Tickets are available from ticketmaster.ie.
Cork Constitution captain James Ryan is aiming for a league and cup double if his side can unpick the Clontarf defence in the Ulster Bank League final at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday. We spoke to him about the road to the final and Con's momentum. Tickets for the match are available from ticketmaster.ie.
On a day that saw all four seasons in one, the girls from Sacred Heart in Tullamore made history by winning the first ever All-Ireland GX7s tournament at the Aviva Stadium. Check out some of the action from the day as 16 teams got their first taste of playing at the home of Irish Rugby.
We turn the spotlight on Young Munster as they bid to go one step further than last year and qualify for the upcoming Ulster Bank League final. Irish Rugby TV spoke to Ger Slattery and Darragh O'Sullivan ahead of Saturday's Division 1A semi-final trip to Cork Constitution.
Highlights of a very exciting day of Women's club rugby action at Anglesea Road as Shield winners Railway Union, Plate winners St. Mary's and Cup champions Galwegians all enjoyed All-Ireland title success.
Highlights from Cork Constitution's two-try 15-13 victory over dethroned Division 1A champions Lansdowne in the Ulster Bank League. The Leesiders, who are third in the table, still have a shot at a home semi-final.