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Ireland Women Win Through To Cup Quarter-Finals In Sydney

Ireland Women Win Through To Cup Quarter-Finals In Sydney

Building on their recent Challenge Trophy win in Dubai, the Ireland Women have reached the Cup quarter-finals of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series tournament in Sydney.

It is the first time that Ireland have reached the Cup quarter-finals of a Women’s Sevens Series tournament as a core team. They did so as an invitational side in Guangzhou, China back in March 2013.

Anthony Eddy’s charges, led by captain Lucy Mulhall, will face the USA at the quarter-final stage in Sydney – 11.22pm Irish time tonight – following a very positive first day for the girls in green at the Allianz Stadium.

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They opened day 1 against Fiji, a team whom they had pushed close over the last 18 months but were yet to register a victory against. After a nervy, error-strewn start in humid conditions, the momentum of the game shifted in Ireland’s favour after Fiji’s Talica Vodo was yellow carded for a high tackle on Megan Williams.

Ireland worked the ball up the pitch and moved it to speedster Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe who touched down for the first of her five tries on the day, which Mulhall converted.

Fiji hit back when Lavenia Tinai found herself on the end of a switch pass which opened a hole in the Irish defence and she gladly raced through to level matters as half-time approached.

Ireland were determined to get another score on the board before the break, and after some great handling to keep the ball alive in the tackle, the Tipperary-born Murphy Crowe was invited forward on the left and she evaded a couple of defenders to score in the corner for a 12-7 interval lead.

Ireland continued where they left off in the second half and a fantastic break down the wing from former Dublin Ladies minor footballer Stacey Flood allowed her to offload to the supporting Ashleigh Baxter who touched down under the posts for Ireland’s third try, converted by Mulhall with four minutes remaining.

From the restart, Ireland put themselves under some needless pressure as loose handling and a drop in concentration led to Pricilla Siata claiming a try back for the Fijians. Nonetheless, Ireland did well to retain possession well in the closing stages before Mulhall ran the clock down and kicked the ball dead to confirm a deserved 19-12 opening win.

The second Pool B game for Eddy’s side saw them pitted against hosts Australia, and with the Aussies having struggled against a spirited Brazil team in the first round, they were looking to put on a performance for their local fans.

The Olympic gold medallists registered their first score after three minutes when Emilee Cherry dotted down, and this was followed by two more tries before half-time, so that Ireland were 15-0 behind at the break.

Australia showed why they are the current Olympic and Women’s World Series champions as they scored two more tries in the second period, with Green scoring the final try to make it 29-0.

Stung by that heavy defeat, Ireland dusted themselves down for their final pool match against Brazil, knowing that a victory would secure them a spot in the last-eight for day 2.

Their hard-fought success against Fiji earlier in the day was clearly a confidence booster as they began their third pool fixture in dominant style, with Williams, Mulhall and Stacey Flood all carrying the ball well. This created the space for Murphy Crowe’s third try of the tournament.

Hannah Tyrrell put pressure on the Brazilians from the restart and Ireland managed to force a penalty, and from a quick tap and some slick passing, ever-alert skipper Mulhall sliced through to score by the posts. She converted her own try to make it 12-0.

Some positive play in the midfield between Stacey Flood and Mulhall then released Murphy Crowe into space and she rounded the covering Brazilian defender to sprint in from her own half and complete her brace.

Brazil came into the second half in search of a try, and after some good work at the lineout, Edna Santini took off down the wing, and despite an excellent chase-down by Mulhall, the Brazilians managed to recycle the ball with Amanda Araujo touching down to make it 12-5.

Williams, who finished the day as the tournament’s second highest overall performer with 10 tackles, three breaks, three offloads and 18 carries, was next to get on the scoresheet for Ireland.

The 25-year-old made a fine break down the wing, and having offloaded out of the tackle to Baxter, she showed why she is high on the performers list as she regrouped to take a return ball from Baxter and then muscle through three Brazilian defenders to score.

Mulhall added the extras, and as IRFU Director of Sevens Eddy utilised his bench, with the Kilkenny-born Chloe Blackmore earning her first World Series cap, there was still time for Murphy Crowe to race down the wing for her hat-trick score which leaves her as the joint-top try scorer in Sydney on five tries.

Kim Flood, another of the eager replacements, struck a beautiful touchline conversion to cap off a terrific collective performance from the girls in green. The resounding 33-5 win confirmed them as Pool B runners-up and sent them into the Cup quarter-finals in fine fettle.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2016/17 HSBC WORLD RUGBY WOMEN’S SEVENS SERIES, Allianz Stadium/Kippax Field, Sydney, Friday, February 3-Saturday, February 4):

Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Chloe Blackmore (St. Mary’s College/Munster)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum/Leinster) (capt)
Emma Murphy (Railway Union/Leinster)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Susan Vaughan (Railway Union/Leinster)
Megan Williams (Ireland Sevens Programme)

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS RESULTS – SYDNEY 7s:

Friday, February 3 –

Pool B:

Fiji 12 Ireland 19
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Ashleigh Baxter; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2

Team: Ashleigh Baxter, Megan Williams, Katie Fitzhenry, Stacey Flood, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Louise Galvin.

Subs: Susan Vaughan, Hannah Tyrrell, Emma Murphy, Kim Flood, Chloe Blackmore.

Australia 29 Ireland 0
Scorers: Ireland: –

Team: Ashleigh Baxter, Megan Williams, Katie Fitzhenry, Stacey Flood, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Louise Galvin.

Subs: Susan Vaughan, Hannah Tyrrell, Emma Murphy, Kim Flood, Chloe Blackmore.

Ireland 33 Brazil 5
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 3, Megan Williams, Lucy Mulhall; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3, Kim Flood

Team: Katie Fitzhenry, Megan Williams, Ashleigh Baxter, Stacey Flood, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Hannah Tyrrell, Lucy Mulhall.

Subs: Louise Galvin, Susan Vaughan, Emma Murphy, Kim Flood, Chloe Blackmore.

Saturday, February 4 –

Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland v USA, Kippax Field, 10.22am local time/11.22pm Irish time (Friday)

Sydney Sevens – Full Results

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS MANAGEMENT –

Anthony Eddy – IRFU Director of Sevens
Eimear Flannery – Team Manager
Marian Earls – S&C Coach
Lorcan McGee – Physiotherapist
Alan Walsh – Performance Analyst
Sam O’Byrne – Media & Communications