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Ireland Women Face Bowl Battle With Brazil

Ireland Women Face Bowl Battle With Brazil

The Ireland Women’s team will take on Brazil in the Bowl semi-finals on Sunday, following the completion of the pool stages at the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series event in Guangzhou.

Jon Skurr’s Ireland squad will compete for the Bowl title in Guangzhou after finishing bottom of a very tough pool.

With three series debutants in their 12-player panel, they took on the might of joint series leaders Australia, England, who reached the final in China last year, and a high quality Fijian team.

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The girls in green suffered a trio of defeats, but will hope to reproduce the form that saw them run England close when they contest the 9th-12th placings with Brazil, hosts China and the USA on Sunday.

Encouragingly, two of the players getting their first taste of Sevens rugby at this level – Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Martina McCarthy – scored tries during the pool stages.

The strength of Pool B was underlined when Australia, Fiji and England all booked places in the Cup quarter-finals.

Skurr’s charges will play the Brazilians in their Bowl semi-final at 11.28am local time/4.28am Irish time, with the 11th-12th place play-off (7.34am Irish time) and Bowl final (7.56am Irish time) to follow afterwards.

All the action from the fourth round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in Guangzhou is being streamed live on wsws.irb.com.

IRB WOMEN’S SEVENS WORLD SERIES – FOURTH LEG:

GUANGZHOU SEVENS: POOL B: Saturday, April 5

AUSTRALIA 50 IRELAND 0, University Town Stadium, Guangzhou

Scorers: Australia: Tries: Emilee Cherry 2, Alicia Quirk 2, Emma Tonegato 2, Amy Turner, Gemma Etheridge; Cons: Emilee Cherry 3, Nicole Beck, Cobie-Jane Morgan
Ireland: –

Ireland went down heavily to joint series leaders Australia in their opening game at the University Town Stadium.

The Sharni Williams-captained Aussies showed their class right from the off as Alicia Quirk made a break on the left and passed inside for Emilee Cherry to race away and score despite a good chase from Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, one of three series debutants in the Irish squad.

Cherry converted her own first minute try for a 7-0 lead and Quirk turned try scorer in the third minute, following up on a powerful burst through the middle from Williams.

The Australians were able to counter from a missed kick to touch from Claire Keohane, and they continued to make the most of Irish errors with the girls in green – despite the best efforts of captain Shannon Houston and Laura Lee Walsh – unable to get out of their own half.

Scrum half Nicole Cronin was busy as ever and her half-break on the right wing was one of few attacking sparks from Ireland against a well-organised Australian defence.

They ran in two more tries before half-time with Emma Tonegato scoring both. She managed to hand off Murphy Crowe for the first and then a neat move after the hooter released her for a second unconverted effort.

That left Ireland 24-0 adrift and although they made a better start to the second period with Cronin and Keohane leading them into Australian territory, the tries continued to come at the other end.

The Dubai and São Paulo champions were ruthless as Cherry beat Megan Williams’ tackle to complete her brace and Amy Turner then evaded the clutches of Williams and Murphy Crowe to add try number six.

The gap was out to 45-0 after Turner ghosted through a gap in the Irish 22 and although Niamh Ni Dhroma tackled her before the line, her well-weighed offload was snapped up by Gemma Etheridge to score in the left corner.

Katie Fitzhenry, another newcomer at this level, was hounded off the back of a late scrum in front of the Irish posts. The quickly-taken penalty saw Australia pass wide for Quirk to touch down and chalk up the half century.

TIME LINE: 1 minute – Australia try: Emilee Cherry – 5-0; conversion: Emilee Cherry – 7-0; 3 mins – Australia try: Alicia Quirk – 12-0; conversion: Emilee Cherry – 14-0; 6 mins – Australia try: Emma Tonegato – 19-0; conversion: missed by Emilee Cherry – 19-0; 7+2 mins – Australia try: Emma Tonegato – 24-0; conversion: missed by Emilee Cherry – 24-0; Half-time – Australia 24 Ireland 0; 9 mins – Australia try: Emilee Cherry – 29-0; conversion: Emilee Cherry – 31-0; 10 mins – Australia try: Amy Turner – 36-0; conversion: Nicole Beck – 38-0; 12 mins – Australia try: Gemma Etheridge – 43-0; conversion: Cobie-Jane Morgan – 45-0; 14+1 mins – Australia try: Alicia Quirk – 50-0; conversion: missed by Cobie-Jane Morgan – 50-0; Full-time – Australia 50 Ireland 0

AUSTRALIA: Shannon Parry, Sharni Williams (capt), Emma Tonegato, Charlotte Caslick, Amy Turner, Alicia Quirk, Emilee Cherry.

Subs: Kirby Sefo, Gemma Etheridge, Cobie-Jane Morgan, Rachel Crothers, Nicole Beck.

IRELAND: Shannon Houston (capt), Niamh Ni Dhroma, Nicole Cronin, Claire Keohane, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Laura Lee Walsh, Susan Vaughan.

Subs: Martina McCarthy, Megan Williams, Katie Fitzhenry, Nikki Caughey, Siobhan Barrett.

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)

IRELAND 19 ENGLAND 21, University Town Stadium, Guangzhou

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Nikki Caughey, Shannon Houston, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe; Cons: Nikki Caughey, Claire Keohane
England: Tries: Marlie Packer, Emily Scott, Heather Fisher; Cons: Emily Scott 3

Ireland produced a much improved display against England, matching them try for try but just falling short on the final scoreboard.

Two early defensive lapses were punished as the English girls, who lost 15-12 to Fiji in their opener, broke into a 14-0 lead.

Siobhan Barrett competed strongly for Nikki Caughey’s kick-off, but the subsequent lineout was lost and England countered impressively from their own half. They set up a ruck on the left and Marlie Packer seized her chance to scoot up the blindside and dot down.

Emily Scott swung over a well-struck conversion and she was over the try-line herself just a minute later, two quick passes springing her through a gap just to the right of the posts.

But Ireland managed to build some momentum during the remainder of the opening half, with a good kick chase by Martina McCarthy and a well-won penalty by Shannon Houston at a ruck.

The lineout also offered a good platform with jumper Barrett featuring. Jon Skurr’s side clawed back a good chunk of territory, but McCarthy had to be on her toes to tackle Natasha Brennan into touch before the half-time whistle sounded.

Despite leaking a converted try to Heather Fisher, Ireland forced the issue for much of the second half.

Nicole Cronin got Ireland on the move initially with a weaving run up towards halfway. Caughey found a very good touch inside the English 22, but the lineout was stolen and England raided forward with Fisher finding a gap on the right just over two minutes in.

Scott’s conversion widened the margin to a flattering 21-0, however Ireland quickly responded as Cronin passed for Caughey to step through the English midfield and dash over halfway to score a fine long range try.

The Ulster ace clipped over the right-sided conversion for good measure and Ireland’s tails were up as Barrett swooped on Claire Keohane’s restart and spearheaded an immediate attack.

A succession of penalties came to a head when English replacement Sarah McKenna was sin-binned and Ireland – with the speedy McCarthy among the players to make an impression – prospered again.

Alert captain Houston was first to an overthrown English lineout in their 22, gobbling up the ball to run in try number two.

This time Keohane’s conversion attempt from the left agonisingly came back off the right hand post, but the girls in green were back within touching distance at 21-12.

Ireland’s persistence was rewarded with a final try as the ball was worked wide for Munster’s Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe to burn a defender on the outside and raid in from the right.

Unfortunately, the score came after the hooter and Keohane’s conversion left a mere two points between the sides at the end of a very entertaining encounter.

TIME LINE: 2 minutes – England try: Marlie Packer – 5-0; conversion: Emily Scott – 7-0; 3 mins – England try: Emily Scott – 12-0; conversion: Emily Scott – 14-0; Half-time – Ireland 14 England 0; 10 mins – England try: Heather Fisher – 19-0; conversion: Emily Scott – 21-0; 11 mins – Ireland try: Nikki Caughey – 21-5; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 21-7; 12 mins – England sin-binning: Sarah McKenna; 13 mins – Ireland try: Shannon Houston – 21-12; conversion: missed by Claire Keohane – 21-12; 14+1 mins – Ireland try: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe – 21-17; conversion: Claire Keohane – 21-19; Full-time – Ireland 21 England 19

IRELAND: Shannon Houston (capt), Martina McCarthy, Niamh Ni Dhroma, Nicole Cronin, Megan Williams, Nikki Caughey, Siobhan Barrett.

Subs: Claire Keohane, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Katie Fitzhenry, Laura Lee Walsh, Susan Vaughan.

ENGLAND: Natasha Brennan, Rachael Burford, Abigail Chamberlain (capt), Marlie Packer, Emily Scott, Michaela Stanfiord, Danielle Waterman.

Subs: Megan Ellery, Heather Fisher, Fran Matthews, Sarah McKenna, Amy Wilson-Hardy.

Referee: James Bolabiu (Fiji)

IRELAND 7 FIJI 36, University Town Stadium, Guangzhou

Scorers: Ireland: Try: Martina McCarthy; Con: Claire Keohane
Fiji: Tries: Asinate Ufia Savu 2, Timaima Ravisa, Litia Naiqato, Rusila Tamoi, Ana Maria Roqica; Cons: Asinate Ufia Savu 3

Ireland were chasing this game from the first minute as the powerful Asinate Ufia Savu slipped out of an attempted tackle from Siobhan Barrett to score an unconverted try.

The girls in green fell 12-0 behind in the third minute when scrum half Timaima Ravisa used set piece ball to break from the ten-metre line, evading both Nicole Cronin and Nikki Caughey on her way to the whitewash.

The Fijians regularly threatened on turnover ball, but Ireland improved as the nippy Cronin made good yardage and Barrett was bang on the money with a tackle that forced the dangerous Savu into touch.

But Savu struck again in the sixth minute, outpacing Niamh Ni Dhroma on the left touchline after a good set-up by Fiji captain Rusila Nagasau. She converted the try herself.

The long-striding Litia Naiqato got in on the scoring act with a late try as she broke over halfway and scored in the right corner despite the best efforts of the tenacious Cronin.

Ireland wasted little time in reducing the half-time deficit of 24-0. Ni Dhroma claimed Claire Keohane’s restart kick and forced a penalty at the ensuing ruck.

Shortly afterwards, Susan Vaughan did well to tie in defenders on the Fijian 22-metre line and the space was created out wide for Keohane to send Martina McCarthy breaking away from the covering defender to squeeze over in the right corner.

Keohane added the conversion to bring Ireland back to within 17 points, but that was as close as they got as Fiji tagged on two more tries.

McCarthy showed great pace to reel in the fast-breaking Pricilla Sauvavi Siata, however the ball was freed up for the supporting Rusila Tamoi to score a seven-pointer.

Terrific work in the tackle and at the breakdown by Cronin prevented what looked a certain Fiji try.

Despite this, the Islanders managed to have the final say after the hooter as Lavenia Tinai broke from deep, shrugging off two tacklers, and she passed for fellow replacement Ana Maria Roqica to finish off another breakaway effort.

TIME LINE: 1 minute – Fiji try: Asinate Ufia Savu – 0-5; conversion: missed by Rusila Nagasau – 0-5; 3 mins – Fiji try: Timaima Ravisa – 0-10; conversion: Asinate Ufia Savu – 0-12; 6 mins – Fiji try: Asinate Ufia Savu – 0-17; conversion: Asinate Ufia Savu – 0-19; 7+1 mins – Fiji try: Litia Naiqato – 0-24; conversion: missed by Rusila Nagasau – 0-24; Half-time – Ireland 0 Fiji 24; 8 mins – Ireland try: Martina McCarthy – 5-24; conversion: Claire Keohane – 7-24; 10 mins – Fiji try: Rusila Tamoi – 7-29; conversion: Asinate Ufia Savu – 7-31; 14+1 mins – Fiji try: Ana Maria Roqica – 7-36; conversion: missed by Asinate Ufia Savu – 7-36; Full-time – Ireland 7 Fiji 36

IRELAND: Shannon Houston (capt), Martina McCarthy, Niamh Ni Dhroma, Nicole Cronin, Nikki Caughey, Siobhan Barrett, Susan Vaughan.

Subs: Claire Keohane, Megan Williams, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Katie Fitzhenry, Laura Lee Walsh.

FIJI: Litia Naiqato, Asinate Ufia Savu, Pricilla Sauvavi Siata, Rusila Nagasau (capt), Rusila Tamoi, Luisa Basei Tisolo, Timaima Ravisa.

Subs: Leoni Jane Burnes, Ana Maria Roqica, Elina Ratauluva, Lavenia Tinai, Akosita Ravato.

Referee: Leah Berard (USA)

IRB WOMEN’S SEVENS WORLD SERIES – FOURTH LEG:

GUANGZHOU SEVENS: Sunday, April 6

BOWL SEMI-FINAL:

IRELAND v BRAZIL, University Town Stadium, Guangzhou, 11.28am local time/4.28am Irish time

You can following the live stream of the knockout stages in Guangzhou on wsws.irb.com.

For more follow @irbwomens on Twitter for updates from the weekend, using the hashtags #China7s and #WSWS.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (Guangzhou Sevens, University Town Stadium, Guangzhou, China, April 5-6):

1. Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster) (capt)
2. Martina McCarthy (St. Mary’s/Talent ID Programme)
3. Niamh Ni Dhroma (Buccaneers/Connacht)
4. Nicole Cronin (Shannon/Munster)
5. Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
6. Megan Williams (Saracens/Exiles)
7. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Clanwilliam/Munster/Talent ID Programme)
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)