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Second European Sevens Plate Triumph For Ireland Women

Second European Sevens Plate Triumph For Ireland Women

The Ireland Women finished fifth overall after an exciting Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series came to a close in Malemort near Brive today. They secured their second Plate title in as many weeks with a 19-5 final win over the Netherlands.

Disappointed to lose their Cup quarter-final 34-0 to France this morning, Ireland bounced back in the Plate competition to defeat Ukraine (24-19) and the Netherlands (19-5) and pick up more WGPS silverware.

Captain Lucy Mulhall starred in the Plate decider, running in two high quality tries to give her side an early 14-0 lead. Ireland leaked a try to Tessa Veldhuis while Mulhall was in the sin-bin, but great feet and acceleration from Katie Fitzhenry saw her burst clear to score a clinching third try.

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Mulhall’s haul took her past the 70-point mark as the top points scorer over the two-legged Grand Prix Series, while flying winger Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe was in terrific try-scoring form in Malemort with seven tries in six games, including hat-tricks against Scotland and Ukraine.

Ireland’s brace of fifth places in Russia and France earned them 24 Series points (fifth overall) and qualification for next month’s European Olympic Repechage tournament in Lisbon, Portugal (July 18-19) as well as the Women’s Sevens World Series Repechage event which is being held on August 22-23 (venue to be confirmed).

The other competing countries in Lisbon will be Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Ukraine, Portugal, Germany, Denmark, Romania, Belgium, Finland and Sweden. Three teams will progress to join Russia in the World Olympic Repechage in June 2016.

Fired-up France proved too strong for Ireland in their opening game of day 2. Les Bleues pounced on an early Irish knock-on and Fanny Horta got away from Fitzhenry to make it 5-0 in front of the partisan crowd.

The home side were 22-0 ahead by half-time, with Shannon Izar stretching over in the right corner despite a last-ditch tackle from Alison Miller, Camille Grassineau ghosted through a gap for the next score and Pauline Biscarat tapped a scrum penalty and dashed clear for try number four.

Caroline Ladagnous took advantage of a missed tackle from Claire Keohane to touch down just 40 seconds after the restart, and turnover ball from a ruck put Izar through to complete her brace. Ireland tried valiantly to respond but Miller was called back for a forward pass after good footwork from Nicole Cronin.

In the Plate semi-final, Ireland did well to recover from a sticky start. Maryna Borodina’s breakaway effort from her 22 put Ukraine into a first-minute lead, but the girls in green regrouped to lead 12-7 by half-time.

Mulhall and Murphy Crowe were denied on a couple of occasions – just short of the try-line – before a determined run from Keohane saw the UL Bohemians clubwoman dot down in the left corner following some typically selfless play from Claire Molloy.

Maintaining a high work-rate from ruck to ruck, Molloy showed great industry as Ireland kept the Ukrainians in their own half and Murphy Crowe caught them napping when she took a quick tap penalty and sped away from three defenders for a converted score.

The Tipperary speedster was over again in the eighth minute, collecting an inviting pass from Keohane to cross in the left corner. Credit too to international Sevens newcomer Audrey O’Flynn for a strong drive through the middle in the build-up. Ukraine were far from finished, though, as another breakaway sparked by Borodina led to Yuliia Ivaschenko touching down ahead of Louise Galvin.

Who else but Murphy Crowe to respond with the match winner, a hand-off and pacy finish from outside the 22 seeing her rack up a second hat-trick and her 11th try of the Series. Borodina ran in a late consolation try for a 24-19 final scoreline.

In getting back to winning ways, Ireland set up a rematch with the Netherlands whom they defeated 14-10 in last week’s Plate decider in Kazan. The Dutch were clearly eager for revenge, but they were rocked by a first-minute seven-pointer from Mulhall who hurtled onto a Molloy pass near halfway and sped away to score to the right of the posts.

The Wicklow youngster took the game by the scruff of the neck once more in the fifth minute. She showed great feet to step in and out and leave three Dutch defenders in her wake, breaking over halfway to go straight in under the posts for a second converted try.

It took a relieving ruck penalty won by Molloy to keep Ireland’s line intact approaching half-time, however the loss of Mulhall to the sin-bin left them under increasing pressure. With seven-versus-six, the Dutch had to score and they managed to do so, flinging possession wide from a lineout on the stand-side and Veldhuis just about evaded Murphy Crowe’s grasp to score.

With their lead cut to 14-5, Ireland knuckled down again and went through the phases to get back into the Dutch half. Fitzhenry grasped her opportunity with a classy try-scoring break on the left, throwing a dummy and then zipping in between two defenders to cross near the corner.

Mulhall missed the conversion and Fitzhenry, battling right to the end, showed her defensive qualities when scrambling back to put in a try-saving tackle on Marsha Volker – much to the delight of her team-mates.

Mulhall commented afterwards: “We didn’t get all of the results and performances that we hoped for this weekend, but we’ve made huge progress as a team in one week. We have a squad that works hard for each other, and because of this, I believe that there is a bright year ahead for this team.”

Anthony Eddy, head coach and IRFU Director of Rugby Sevens, said: “We are delighted to have won qualification to the European Olympic Repechage tournament and also to the WSWS Repechage.

“We still have a lot of work to do and the tournament experience is extremely valuable as we can measure our performance against some of the top teams. The last two weekends have been great and the team has learned a lot – we now have to continue to work hard and look forward to Lisbon.”

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

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 SEVENS GRAND PRIX SERIES – FINAL POSITIONS:

1. France (38 series points & Olympic qualification)
2. Russia (36 points & World Olympic Repechage place)
3. Spain (32 points)
4. England (30 points)
5. Ireland (24 points)
6. Netherlands (20 points)
7. Wales (14 points)
8. Italy (9 points)
9. Ukraine (8 points)
10. Portugal (7 points)
11. Scotland (6 points)
12. Germany (4 point)

Rugby Europe Tournament Page – Fixtures/Results/Pool Tables

IRELAND WOMEN’S RESULTS –

Pool C – Saturday, June 20

Day 1 Round-Up – Ireland Women Through To Quarter-Finals As Pool Runners-Up

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.

Play-Offs – Sunday, June 21

Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland 0 France 34
Scorers: Ireland: –
France: Tries: Fanny Horta, Shannon Izar 2, Camille Grassineau, Pauline Biscarat, Caroline Ladagnous; Cons: Christelle Le Duff 2

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

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

Plate Semi-Final: Ukraine 19 Ireland 24
Scorers: Ukraine: Tries: Maryna Borodina 2, Yuliia Ivaschenko; Cons: Olga Blanutsa, Svitlana Hnatenko
Ireland: Tries: Claire Keohane, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 3; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2

Team: Audrey O’Flynn, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Ashleigh Baxter, Claire Keohane, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Claire Molloy, Louise Galvin.

Subs: Shannon Houston, Nicole Cronin, Eimear Considine, Katie Fitzhenry, Alison Miller.

Plate Final: Ireland 19 Netherlands 5
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Lucy Mulhall 2, Katie Fitzhenry; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2
Netherlands: Try: Tessa Veldhuis

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’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.