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Ireland Women Through To Quarter-Finals As Pool Runners-Up

Ireland Women Through To Quarter-Finals As Pool Runners-Up

The Ireland Women were pipped to top spot in Pool C by England on an eventful opening day at the Rugby Europe Women’s Grand Prix Series tournament in Malemort. They will play hosts France in the Cup quarter-finals tomorrow morning (11.06am local time/10.06am Irish time).

In bright sunshine at Stade Raymond Faucher, Ireland added to the momentum built up by last week’s Plate win by running out comprehensive 56-0 winners over Scotland in their pool opener.

Shannon Houston won a ruck penalty and Claire Molloy took possession up close to the line before a diagonal run from Louise Galvin saw her get through a gap to score the first try which captain Lucy Mulhall converted.

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Mulhall added the extras to three more tries before half-time, a Galvin turnover and quick passing releasing Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe on the Irish 22 and she burned off a defender on the outside for a classy finish.

Murphy Crowe displayed her slick finishing skills again soon after when she stepped inside the cover after an excellent set-up by Mulhall and Claire Keohane. A tap penalty and clever dummy from Keohane then saw her notch try number four for a 28-0 half-time scoreline.

Scotland conceded early in the second half as Galvin burst through the middle to compete her brace, following up on a strong run from Murphy Crowe, who did very well to track back from the restart and produce a try-saving tackle.

An initial break by Eimear Considine and a good follow-up from fellow replacement Ashleigh Baxter paved the way for Murphy Crowe’s hat-trick score. Molloy was next over the try-line, showing a neat turn of pace to score from close range, with her Six Nations-winning colleague Alison Miller making a typically powerful burst up the right wing beforehand.

There was still time for Ireland to pass the half-century mark. Nicole Cronin, making a welcome return from injury along with Baxter, was stopped short before Considine stepped into the final defender to dot down under the posts.

Ireland took their try tally to 15 for the competition when they powered past Germany 47-7 in their second game. Molloy broke away to score the first with just over a minute on the clock, popping up on Mulhall’s shoulder after Keohane had taken a quick tap penalty.

Galvin tidied up a loose ball on the left to run in try number two, a Baxter pass then sent Katie Fitzhenry through a gap and on their way to the whitewash and Miller darted clear from her own half to make it 28-0 by half-time.

Quick recycling and a well-timed Mulhall pass put Baxter clear on the left wing as Ireland made the ideal start to the second half. The Ulster woman was involved in the next Irish score, his cross-field run tying in defenders for the work-hungry Miller to finish off her second try.

Ireland’s defence was finally split by a breakaway effort from Alysha Stone, but Anthony Eddy’s side made it a 40-point winning margin when direct running from Considine took Ireland over halfway and her pass teed up Murphy Crowe’s fourth try of the tournament.

Meeting England for the second time in six days, Ireland were determined to avenge last Sunday’s 17-15 quarter-final defeat in Kazan. The early signs were positive in today’s rematch with a Fitzhenry tackle and penalty breaking up England’s initial dominance of possession.

The girls in green struck for the opening try in the second minute, Galvin, Keohane, who collected her own chip, and Molloy all pressing before numbers out wide on the left saw Houston go over in the corner.

That unconverted try was cancelled out by a breakout fourth-minute score from Abigail Brown, who did well to evade a couple of tacklers after picking up turnover ball inside her own half. Alice Richardson missed the straightforward conversion, leaving it 5-5 for half-time.

Ireland’s commitment to the cause was summed by Molloy’s textbook tackle on Heather Fisher which forced the powerful English player over the touchline, but England seized the lead in the 10th minute thanks to a second breakout score.

Mulhall and her team-mates were playing most of the rugby, probing for openings and passing accurately, but England looked threatening on the counter and Richardson got clear to make it 12-5. However, referee Alhambra Nievas erred when failing to penalise what seemed a clear case of obstruction by Claire Allan on Galvin as the Kerry woman tried to reel in Richardson.

Ireland dug deep to answer back in the final seconds, running a quickly-taken penalty and putting the ball through the hands as Mulhall and Baxter released Miller to finish smartly near the left corner. Mulhall’s difficult conversion attempt flashed across the posts, leaving England to celebrate a hard-fought 12-10 win.

The narrow defeat leaves Ireland with a tough task against hosts France in tomorrow’s Cup quarter-finals. However, the Netherlands managed to beat the French 20-10 in the final round of the pool stages, and Eddy’s charges will be aiming to do likewise in the last-eight.

Giving his reaction at the end of day 1, Anthony Eddy, IRFU Director of Rugby Sevens, said: “The team performed well and showed some improvement on our performance from last week (in Kazan).

“It’s pleasing again to be in the Cup quarter-finals and tomorrow’s performance is extremely important for us in regards to seeding positions for the European Olympic Repechage tournament and also qualification to the Women’s Sevens World Series qualification tournament.”

The Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series tournament in Malemort near Brive will be streamed live here over the weekend.

Check out www.irishrugby.ie/sevens for all the latest Men’s and Women’s Sevens news.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series – Leg 2, Stade Raymond Faucher, Malemort, France, June 20-21):
Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster)
Audrey O’Flynn (TID)
Nicole Cronin (Shannon/Munster)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (St. Mary’s/Munster)
Eimear Considine (TID)
Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Lucy Mulhall (TID) (capt)
Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht)

Rugby Europe Tournament Page – Fixtures/Results/Pool Tables
Rugby Europe Women’s Grand Prix Series – Leg 2 Fixtures/Results –

Saturday, June 20:

Pool C –

Ireland 56 Scotland 0
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Louise Galvin 2, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 3, Claire Keohane, Claire Molloy, Eimear Considine; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 8
Scotland: –

Team: Shannon Houston, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Katie Fitzhenry, Claire Keohane, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Claire Molloy, Louise Galvin.

Subs: Audrey O’Flynn, Nicole Cronin, Eimear Considine, Ashleigh Baxter, Alison Miller.

Ireland 47 Germany 7
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Claire Molloy, Louise Galvin, Katie Fitzhenry, Alison Miller 2, Ashleigh Baxter, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 6
Germany: Try: Alysha Stone; Con: Lisa Kropp

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

Subs: Shannon Houston, Audrey O’Flynn, Nicole Cronin, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eimear Considine.

Ireland 10 England 12
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Shannon Houston, Alison Miller
England: Tries: Abigail Brown, Alice Richardson; Con: Alice Richardson

Team: Shannon Houston, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Katie Fitzhenry, Claire Keohane, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Claire Molloy, Louise Galvin.

Subs: Audrey O’Flynn, Nicole Cronin, Eimear Considine, Ashleigh Baxter, Alison Miller.

Sunday, June 21:

Cup Quarter-Finals –

Russia v Ukraine, 10am local time
England v Wales, 10.22am local time
Netherlands v Spain, 10.44am local time
Ireland v France, 11.06am local time/10.06am Irish time