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Ireland Women Finish Twelfth In Atlanta

Ireland Women Finish Twelfth In Atlanta

The Ireland Women’s squad endured a disappointing second day at the Atlanta Sevens as they finished 12th overall after back-to-back defeats to China and Brazil.

It proved to be tough going for Jon Skurr’s youthful side in the knockout stages, with China and Brazil both running four tries past them.

Captain Shannon Houston was Ireland’s lone try scorer in a 26-7 Bowl semi-final loss to the Chinese.

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In the 11th-12th place play-off against Brazil, Ireland again fell behind early on and were playing catch-up. The margin was reduced to 10 points by Aoife Doyle’s second half try but the south Americans ran out convincing 20-5 winners.

The third leg of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series takes place in São Paulo, Brazil next Friday and Saturday, giving the girls further exposure to elite Sevens rugby in a tournament environment.

The pool draw for São Paulo will be made following the completion of the Atlanta Sevens.

IRB WOMEN’S SEVENS WORLD SERIES – SECOND LEG:

ATLANTA SEVENS: BOWL SEMI-FINAL: Sunday, February 16

IRELAND 7 CHINA 26, Fifth Third Bank Stadium, Kennesaw State University

Scorers: Ireland: Try: Shannon Houston; Con: Nikki Caughey
China: Tries: Guan Qishi, Chen Keyi 2, Zhao Xinqi; Cons: Chen Ming 3

Ireland were made to pay for a sluggish first half performance as China qualified for the Bowl final at the Atlanta Sevens.

Head coach Jon Skurr kept faith with the Irish team that started yesterday’s pool win over the Netherlands, but it was the Chinese who showed all the energy and attacking invention.

Chen Keyi raided forward after Ireland knocked on from the kick-off, with China setting up camp in the Irish half for much of the opening seven minutes.

It was China captain Guan Qishi who broke the deadlock after 40 seconds when she stepped in between Shannon Houston and Niamh Ni Dhroma on the right to run in a converted try.

Ireland looked tentative at times and although a Claire Keohane kick gained some territory, poor passing off a scrappy scrum saw them back in their own half.

China disrupted the Irish rucks and Laura Lee Walsh was pinged for holding on near the Chinese 10-metre line.

The Asian side, who failed to score any tries in the pool stages, doubled their lead coming up to the interval as Keyi’s weaving run took her past Megan Williams and Keohane to dot down to the left of the posts.

Chen Ming added her second conversion to make it 14-0 at half-time, with Skurr urging his charges to remain ‘patient’ as they tried to close the gap.

Susan Vaughan was a lively replacement for Ireland but she was brought down on the Irish 22-metre line, early in the second period, and China created their third try from the subsequent turnover.

They won the ruck battle again and spread the ball wide to the left where Zhao Xinqi was able to get over in the corner past Irish captain Houston.

Walsh was tackled into touch as Ireland, now 19-0 adrift, attempted to break out of their half.

The girls in green made progress when strong defence from Vaughan won a penalty. A second one followed inside the Chinese 10-metre line and Nicole Cronin took a quick tap and popped the ball to Houston who crashed through the middle and over for a try that Nikki Caughey converted.

However, errors continued to let Ireland down in their push for further scores and China rounded off a comfortable win when the impressive Keyi dashed away from three defenders to score a final seven-pointer.

TIME LINE: 1 minute – China try: Guan Qishi – 0-5; conversion: Chen Ming – 0-7; 7 mins – China try: Chen Keyi – 0-12; conversion: Chen Ming – 0-14; Half-time – Ireland 0 China 14; 8 mins – China try: Zhao Xinqi – 0-19; conversion: missed by Chen Ming – 0-19; 12 mins – Ireland try: Shannon Houston – 5-19; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 7-19; 14 mins – China try: Chen Keyi – 7-24; conversion: Chen Ming – 7-26; Full-time – Ireland 7 China 26

IRELAND: Shannon Houston (capt), Niamh Ni Dhroma, Nicole Cronin, Claire Keohane, Megan Williams, Aoife Doyle, Laura Lee Walsh.

Subs: Christine Arthurs, Laura O’Mahony, Nikki Caughey, Siobhan Barrett, Susan Vaughan.

CHINA: Yang Min, Liu Yang, Zhao Xinqi, Chen Ming, Chen Keyi, Guan Qishi (capt), Sun Shichao.

Subs: Lu Yuanyuan, Zhao Wenging, Yu Xiaoming, Xu Tian, Zhong Rui.

Referee: Leah Berard (USA)

ATLANTA SEVENS: BOWL 11TH-12TH PLACE PLAY-OFF: Sunday, February 16

IRELAND 5 BRAZIL 20, Fifth Third Bank Stadium, Kennesaw State University

Scorers: Ireland: Try: Aoife Doyle
Brazil: Tries: Julia Sarda, Ayna Christovam, Edna Santini, Thais Rocha

Ireland finished the tournament on a losing note against Brazil, as a first sin-binning and the physical exertions of the two-day event took their toll.

The girls in green were aggressive right from the off, with Christine Arthurs and Siobhan Barrett tackling hard on the left wing.

A turnover by Laura O’Mahony gave Ireland quick ball that has been hard to come by, but unfortunately Nikki Caughey was called back for a forward pass as she raced towards the Brazilian 22.

Caughey was then powerless to prevent Julia Sarda from running in a second minute try, the Brazil captain beating an initial tackle and displaying good pace and footwork to finish in the left corner.

The score was unconverted and Ireland suffered a further setback when Spanish referee Alhambra Nievas sin-binned Arthurs.

There was some sterling defence from Aoife Doyle out wide as Ireland held the Brazilians at bay, before they switched off and allowed Ayna Christovam to take a quick tap and touch down from close range.

Ireland’s attack improved nearing half-time with some neat interplay between Doyle and Arthurs, however the latter knocked on a return pass.

Skurr urged his players to ‘play the outside channels’ and stretch the Brazilians during his half-time team talk, as they looked to overturn a 10-0 deficit.

Niamh Ni Dhroma and Laura Lee Walsh entered the fray, but Brazil stretched their lead thanks to some elusive running from Sarda and a neat finish in the right corner by Edna Santini.

Ireland hit back while Sarda was in the sin-bin. Good strength and awareness from Ni Dhroma released the 18-year-old Doyle for a five-pointer to the right of the posts. Megan Williams, another of the Irish replacements, deserves credit for an initial barnstorming break through the middle.

Brazil though were still full of running and replacement Thais Rocha added an unconverted effort late on to seal their 11th place finish.

TIME LINE: 2 minutes – Brazil try: Julia Sarda – 0-5; conversion: missed by Mariana Ramalho – 0-5; 4 mins – Ireland yellow card: Christine Arthurs; 6 mins – Brazil try: Ayna Christovam – 0-10; conversion: missed by Mariana Ramalho – 0-10; Half-time – Ireland 0 Brazil 10; 10 mins – Brazil try: Edna Santini – 0-15; conversion: missed by Raquel Kochhann – 0-15; 11 mins – Brazil yellow card: Julia Sarda; 12 mins – Ireland try: Aoife Doyle – 5-15; conversion: missed by Nikki Caughey – 5-15; 14 mins – Brazil try: Thais Rocha – 5-20; conversion: missed by Thais Rocha – 5-20; Full-time – Ireland 5 Brazil 20

IRELAND: Shannon Houston (capt), Christine Arthurs, Aoife Doyle, Laura O’Mahony, Nikki Caughey, Siobhan Barrett, Susan Vaughan.

Subs: Niamh Ni Dhroma, Nicole Cronin, Claire Keohane, Megan Williams, Laura Lee Walsh.

BRAZIL: Ayna Christovam, Julia Sarda (capt), Edna Santini, Tais Balconi , Angelica Gevaerd, Mariana Ramalho, Juliana Esteves Santos.

Subs: Thamara Rangel, Thais Rocha, Barbara Santiago, Carla Barbosa, Raquel Kochhann.

Referee: Alhambra Nievas (Spain)

Click here for a recap of Ireland’s pool matches on day one.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (Atlanta Sevens, Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, February 15-16):

1. Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster) (capt)
2. Christine Arthurs (Tralee/Connacht)
3. Niamh Ni Dhroma (Buccaneers/Connacht)
4. Nicole Cronin (Shannon/Munster)
5. Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
6. Megan Williams (Saracens/Exiles)
7. Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Munster)
8. Laura O’Mahony (Tralee/Munster)
9. Nikki Caughey (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
10. Siobhan Barrett (Tralee/Munster)
11. Laura Lee Walsh (Talent ID Programme)
12. Susan Vaughan (Railway Union/Leinster)