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Eleventh Place Finish For Ireland In São Paulo

Eleventh Place Finish For Ireland In São Paulo

The Ireland Women’s Sevens squad faced South American opposition in their final two games at the Brazil Sevens tournament in São Paulo, with a 17-12 play-off victory over Argentina confirming them as 11th place finishers.

A heavy rain shower made handling conditions particularly difficult for Ireland’s 11th-12th place play-off against Argentina.

But some neat interplay led to tries for captain Shannon Houston, Claire Keohane and Nicole Cronin as Jon Skurr’s charges ended the tournament on a winning note.

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The result secured 11th position overall – an improvement of one place from Atlanta – and two IRB World Series points, with the girls in green now up to 11th (five points) in the standings after the Dubai, Atlanta and São Paulo legs.

Sunday began for Ireland with a Bowl semi-final against Brazil where the tournament hosts ran out 30-0 winners.

From the cold of Atlanta to the heat of São Paulo, this young and inexperienced Ireland squad have shown a resilient streak in bouncing back to record victories over the Netherlands and Argentina over the two weekends.

They also produced improved displays yesterday against both New Zealand and England, two of the leading Sevens teams in the world.

In total, seven players made their international Sevens debuts over rounds 2 and 3, including three products of the IRFU’s Talent ID Programme – Laura Lee Walsh, Aisling Naughton and Elaine Ryan.

There were six different try scorers with Houston (3) and newcomer Cronin (2) leading the way, while kickers Keohane (11 points) and Nikki Caughey (9) also touched down.

After sampling this elite level of competition, Skurr’s new-look side will regroup and target further progression as the focus switches to April’s Guangzhou Sevens in China.

IRB WOMEN’S SEVENS WORLD SERIES – THIRD LEG:

BRAZIL SEVENS: BOWL SEMI-FINAL: Saturday, February 22

IRELAND 0 BRAZIL 30, Arena Barueri, São Paulo

Scorers: Ireland: –
Brazil: Tries: Julia Sarda, Paula Ishibashi 2, Edna Santini, Raquel Kochhann, Mariana Ramalho

Ireland were out for revenge after losing a play-off to Brazil in Atlanta, and forceful tackling early on from Laura Lee Walsh, Susan Vaughan and Niamh Ni Dhroma won a scrum just over halfway.

The girls in green built from a subsequent lineout, with Nicole Cronin feeding Claire Keohane who kicked through on the right and the onrushing Aoife Doyle was just a bounce of the ball away from scoring.

However, Ireland’s positive start was soon eclipsed by the speedy Brazilians who succeeded in running in three unconverted tries before half-time.

They outstripped the Irish defence out wide and although Julia Sarda was well-tackled initially by Cronin, she popped up in the same attack soon after to score to the right of the posts.

Paula Ishibashi added a second unconverted effort just over a minute later and good footwork and angles of running led to another try from Edna Santini.

The heavy defensive workload was taking its toll on Ireland and as they tired in the second half, Brazil ran in three more tries to run out resounding winners.

Jon Skurr used his bench to try and get Ireland back in contention, but the gap was out to 20-0 after replacement Raquel Kochhann stepped inside Cronin and stretched over past Nikki Caughey to touch down.

Ireland were caught out wide for two more tries, the second of which saw Ishibashi complete her brace as she got over in the right corner past the covering Walsh and Aisling Naughton.

TIME LINE: 4 minutes – Brazil try: Julia Sarda – 0-5; conversion: missed by Mariana Ramalho – 0-5; 5 mins – Brazil try: Paula Ishibashi – 0-10; conversion: missed by Mariana Ramalho – 0-10; 7+1 mins – Brazil try: Edna Santini – 0-15; conversion: missed by Mariana Ramalho – 0-15; Half-time – Ireland 0 Brazil 15; 10 mins – Brazil try: Raquel Kochhann – 0-20; conversion: missed by Raquel Kochhann – 0-20; 12 mins – Brazil try: Mariana Ramalho – 0-25; conversion: missed by Raquel Kochhann – 0-25; 13 mins – Brazil try: Paula Ishibashi – 0-30; conversion: missed by Raquel Kochhann – 0-30; Full-time – Ireland 0 Brazil 30

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

Subs: Christine Arthurs, Megan Williams, Aisling Naughton, Nikki Caughey, Elaine Ryan.

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

Subs: Thamara Rangel, Luiza Campos, Thais Rocha, Carla Barbosa, Raquel Kochhann.

Referee: Sara Cox (England)

IRELAND 17 ARGENTINA 12, Arena Barueri, São Paulo

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Shannon Houston, Claire Keohane, Nicole Cronin; Con: Claire Keohane
Argentina: Tries: Sofia Gonzalez, Luciana Travesi; Con: Isabel Fontanarrosa

Ireland were determined to record an elusive win in their final outing in São Paulo, but it was a hard slog at times as the rain pelted down.

Despite the hampering weather conditions, the girls in green got off to an encouraging start as Shannon Houston, whose direct running was a feature throughout, cut through for a try within 90 seconds.

Claire Keohane missed the conversion and Sofia Gonzalez had the Argentinians back level at the midpoint of the half, with her try also unconverted.

The sides continued to create openings with Nicole Cronin going close for Ireland, but Argentina moved ahead when Isabel Fontanarrosa added the extras to Luciana Travesi’s try.

Importantly, Jon Skurr’s side hit back just after the half-time hooter. They built pressure thanks to strong running from Houston again and Laura Lee Walsh.

Cronin tapped a penalty as the Irish set up a late attack in the Argentinian 22 and Keohane stepped off her left to dart in behind the posts from close range, converting her own try for a 12-12 scoreline at the interval.

Argentina’s discipline let them down as referee Marlize Jordaan pinged them for a series of ruck offences on the resumption.

Advancing Ireland were close to a third try when Niamh Ni Dhroma was held up just short as she used her strength to good effect in the right corner.

A penalty was forced and the ever-alert Cronin took it quickly to stretch over past two covering defenders. Keohane missed the conversion from the right.

Ireland maintained a high work-rate with Susan Vaughan and Ni Dhroma bundling an Argentinian player into touch.

Replacement Nikki Caughey then took contact and got her hands free to release Aoife Doyle for a one-on-one with Fontanarrosa near halfway, but the latter produced a good tackle.

Megan Williams, who was introduced along with Christine Arthurs, stretched her legs as she threatened on the right wing. However, once again, Fontanarrosa came to Argentina’s rescue.

Ireland then had a late let-off when an Argentinian try was ruled out for a double movement – replacement Aisling Naughton intervened with a crucial tackle – and they held on for a hard-fought victory.

TIME LINE: 2 minutes – Ireland try: Shannon Houston – 5-0; conversion: missed by Claire Keohane – 5-0; 4 mins – Argentina try: Sofia Gonzalez – 5-5; conversion: missed by Isabel Fontanarrosa – 5-5; 6 mins – Argentina try: Luciana Travesi – 5-10; conversion: Isabel Fontanarrosa – 5-12; 7+1 mins – Ireland try: Claire Keohane – 10-12; conversion: Claire Keohane – 12-12; Half-time – Ireland 12 Argentina 12; 10 mins – Ireland try: Nicole Cronin – 17-12; conversion: missed by Claire Keohane – 17-12; Full-time – Ireland 17 Argentina 12

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

Subs: Christine Arthurs, Megan Williams, Aisling Naughton, Nikki Caughey, Elaine Ryan.

ARGENTINA: Eugenia Botelli, Noelia Billerbeck (capt), Xoana Sosa, Isabel Fontanarrosa, Rita Cazorla, Luciana Travesi, Sofia Gonzalez.

Subs: Vanesa Salas, Yamila Otero, Gimena Acuna, Silvana Castro, Rocio Benitez.

Referee: Marlize Jordaan (South Africa)

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

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (Brazil Sevens, Arena Barueri, Barueri, São Paulo, February 21-22):

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. Aisling Naughton (Talent ID Programme)
9. Nikki Caughey (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
10. Elaine Ryan (Talent ID Programme)
11. Laura Lee Walsh (Talent ID Programme)
12. Susan Vaughan (Railway Union/Leinster)