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Six-Try Success Sends Ireland Women Through To Quarter-Finals

Six-Try Success Sends Ireland Women Through To Quarter-Finals

The Ireland Women’s team overcame Ukraine 38-7 to finish third in Pool B and qualify for the quarter-finals of the Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series tournament in Kazan, Russia. Anthony Eddy’s side will face England in the last-eight tomorrow.

Ireland meet England in a mouth-watering quarter-final clash at 10.22am local time/8.22am Irish time on Sunday morning, having lost to Spain (24-12) and France (20-7) and beaten Ukraine (38-7) in the pool stages.

Head coach and IRFU Director of Rugby Sevens Anthony Eddy knows his charges will have lift their game for the knockout rounds, saying: “It is pleasing to make the quarter-finals and we will be looking for a big performance on day 2.”

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Ireland included two international Sevens newcomers in their starting line-up for their opening game against Spain – captain Lucy Mulhall and Louise Galvin, the Kerry Ladies footballer who has joined the Sevens programme.

Jenny Murphy, who is coming back from a shoulder injury she sustained at the recent Amsterdam Sevens tournament, was replaced in the playing squad by Laura Lee Walsh. “Jenny is just not 100% yet and should be ready for Brive next weekend,” explained team manager Gillian McDarby. “She is a big loss to us, however Laura Lee Walsh adds great depth to the squad.”

There was precious little between the teams until Spain made the breakthrough midway through the first half. Claire Molloy and Shannon Houston defended well initially in one-on-one situations out wide, but Berta Garcia managed to slip through to score a seven-pointer to the left of the posts.

Ireland responded in impressive fashion with Molloy producing tidy ball from the restart. Quick passing from Mulhall led to Alison Miller embarking on a trademark barnstorming run up the right wing, handing off two defenders on the way. She was hauled down short of the try-line but got her offload away for the supporting Houston to touch down.

Mulhall missed the conversion from the right and the experienced Spanish side, who played in this season’s World Series, gained crucial ground before half-time. They ran in two tries to take a 17-5 lead, with play-maker Patricia Garcia getting away from Miller to score and then Elisabet Martinez did the donkey work for a Vanesa Rial effort.

Patricia Garcia showed her class again early in the second half, drawing in two defenders before releasing Iera Echebarria on the outside for a long run-in to the posts. Although Garcia’s conversion for a 24-5 scoreline effectively put Spain out of reach, Ireland built for a strong finish to the match.

Megan Williams was a high-energy replacement and she helped the girls in green get back into scoring range late on. From a position in the Spanish 22, possession was moved from left to right where Mulhall and Eimear Considine combined to send replacement Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe over for a try converted by Mulhall.

The same seven players started Ireland’s second Pool B fixture as they came up against France, last year’s European runners-up. Again, the girls in green got off to a positive start with an initial spell inside the French half.

However, a missed tackle out wide proved costly as Camille Grassineau raided in from the right for the opening try which went unconverted. They led 10-0 at the interval following a try from Fanny Horta, who succeeded in getting around the outside of Katie Fitzhenry.

Into the second half, France were pressing for an early score when replacement Stacey Flood had a crucial intervention in preventing a certain try. The game also had to be held up for a collision between Molloy and Williams but both players were able to continue.

There were nine minutes on the clock when Ireland got back in touch thanks to a superb solo try from Galvin. Williams supplied lineout ball to Flood and Galvin burst onto the pass to open up the French defence on a straight run, and she had the pace to dash away over halfway and go in under the posts.

Mulhall’s conversion made it 10-7, but French replacement Caroline Ladagnous bagged a quick brace of tries to sew up the result (20-7). Ireland were forced to play from deep and turnover ball and a missed tackle allowed Ladagnous through for her first. She then broke around the side of a ruck, near the right touchline, to dot down in the dying seconds.

Ireland’s commitment to the cause was typified by Megan Williams who, having broke her nose, wore a face guard for the match against Ukraine. They made immediate inroads against the eastern Europeans, with Claire Keohane’s first-minute try being converted by Mulhall.

Miller and Fitzhenry added further efforts before Maryna Borodina responded for a 19-7 half-time scoreline. Ireland matched that 19-point tally in an encouraging second half display as Fitzhenry completed her brace and replacements Murphy Crowe and Flood also dotted down.

Wicklow woman Mulhall, who slotted two more conversions, said the squad learned a lot from their opening encounters in Kazan and that ‘there is a lot more to come’ from them.

Keep up to date with all the latest Ireland Sevens news on www.irishrugby.ie/sevens.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2015 Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series – Leg 1, Tulpar Sports Complex, Kazan, Russia, June 13-14):

Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Laura Lee Walsh (TID)
Lucy Mulhall (TID)* (capt)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)*
Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster)
Megan Williams (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (St. Mary’s/Munster)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht)
Eimear Considine (TID)*
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)*
Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht)

RUGBY EUROPE SEVENS GRAND PRIX SERIES – LEG 1 POOLS:

 

POOL A: Russia, Portugal, Italy, Scotland
POOL B: France, Spain, Ireland, Ukraine
POOL C: England, Netherlands, Wales, Germany

IRELAND WOMEN’S RESULTS/FIXTURES –

Pool B – Saturday, June 13

Spain 24 Ireland 12
Scorers: Spain: Tries: Berta Garcia, Patricia Garcia, Vanesa Rial, Iera Echebarria; Cons: Patricia Garcia 2
Ireland: Tries: Shannon Houston, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe; Con: Lucy Mulhall

Team: Shannon Houston, Katie Fitzhenry, Claire Keohane, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Claire Molloy, Louis Galvin, Alison Miller.

Subs: Laura Lee Walsh, Stacey Flood, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eimear Considine, Megan Williams.

France 20 Ireland 7
Scorers: France: Tries: Camille Grassineau, Fanny Horta, Caroline Ladagnous 2
Ireland: Try: Louise Galvin; Con: Lucy Mulhall

Team: Shannon Houston, Katie Fitzhenry, Claire Keohane, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Claire Molloy, Louise Galvin, Alison Miller.

Subs: Laura Lee Walsh, Stacey Flood, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eimear Considine, Megan Williams.

Ireland 38 Ukraine 7
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Claire Keohane, Alison Miller, Katie Fitzhenry 2, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 4
Ukraine: Try: Maryna Borodina; Con: Svitlana Hnatenko

Team: Shannon Houston, Megan Williams, Katie Fitzhenry, Claire Keohane, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Louise Galvin, Alison Miller.

Subs: Laura Lee Walsh, Stacey Flood, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eimear Considine, Claire Molloy.

Rugby Europe – Final Pools/Knockout Fixtures

Quarter-Finals – Sunday, June 14

Russia v Wales, 10am local time
England v Ireland, 10.22am local time/8.22am Irish time
France v Italy, 10.44am local time
Netherlands v Spain, 11.06am local time

IRELAND’S OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION PROCESS FOR RIO 2016:

1. As the Ireland Women’s Sevens team are not in the World Series, the route to the Olympics is through the regional qualifiers for Europe. This European Championship (2015) will be held over two consecutive weekends (Russia, June 13-14, and France, June 20-21). The winning team qualifies for the Olympics.

2. If Ireland does not win the European Championship (2015), qualification is possible in 2016 through the 2016 World Repechage.

To qualify for the World Repechage, Ireland must:

a. Finish as runners-up of the 2015 European Championship or
b. Finish in the top three of the European Repechage (Lisbon, July 2015)

The winners of the 2016 World Repechage will qualify for the Olympics.