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Ireland Women Lay Down Marker With Sydney Performances

Ireland Women Lay Down Marker With Sydney Performances

The Ireland Women’s Sevens squad claimed eighth spot at the Sydney 7s tournament over the weekend – the best finish that this current group of players have achieved in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series to date.

Having secured a precious Cup quarter-final spot on day 1 with two pool wins from three, defeating Fiji and Brazil either side of a defeat to hosts Australia, Anthony Eddy’s side faced a last-eight clash with the USA (who had overcome England and Spain the previous day).

Playing on the Kippax Field behind the Allianz Stadium in Sydney, Ireland went into the quarter-final in the knowledge that a win would seal their best ever finish on the Women’s Sevens Series circuit.

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However, there were clear signs of nerves early on as Ireland lacked the cohesion that they had shown on day 1, and the USA took advantage of this almost immediately as Naya Tapper, who would go on to win the Player of the Tournament accolade, touched down within the first 60 seconds.

From the restart, the girls in green gained territory and had a number of opportunities to cross the USA’s line, buts some loose passing and handling errors denied them a much-needed try.

Ireland eventually managed a try through the ever-reliable Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, who added to her excellent tally of five tries from the pool stages.

With the teams now level at half-time, there looked to be hope for Ireland, however the power and physicality of the USA outfit, along with some unseasonal rain and a yellow-card for Louise Galvin following a high tackle proved too much for Ireland to handle and the Americans scored two more tries in the second half to finish the game as 17-5 winners.

The result meant that Ireland proceeded to the 5th-8th place play-offs and a renewal of rivalries with their French counterparts. A superb first half display had Eddy’s charges leading 19-0 at the interval.

They began the game in much-improved fashion and found themselves in the lead with under a minute on the clock when Hannah Tyrrell claimed the kick-off and made valuable metres before offloading to the supporting Katie Fitzhenry who touched down by the posts and allowed captain Lucy Mulhall to land the conversion.

Two minutes later, Mulhall spotted some that France had no sweeper in place and chipped through a well-weighted kick, and with Murphy Crowe already at full stride, the Tipperary speedster outpaced the covering French defenders to dot down.

With two minutes left in the opening period, a well-worked lineout move saw Megan Williams drive her legs to gain valuable extra metres, before the ball was spread wide through Stacey Flood and Mulhall. Murphy Crowe then used some excellent footwork to beat the French defence and sprinted in to score at the posts which allowed Mulhall to easily convert.

With Ireland leading 19-0 at half time, those watching on would have expected Ireland to progress into the 5th-6th place play-off, however a combination of some bad luck and lack of experience of being in this position come day 2 became apparent.

The French finally got their hands on the ball and ran hard at the Irish defence. With some deft offloads, they found chinks in the Irish armour and replacement Montserrat Amedee raced through to score. Pauline Biscarat added the extras before scoring a try of her own after some good continuity drew in the Irish defence and created space for her to dot down.

The French used their greater levels of experience and claimed a 21-19 win after Laurelin Coutouly, fresh onto the field, out-stepped the tiring Irish defence to score under the posts, sending Ireland into a 7th-8th place play-off against old foes Russia.

With a packed-out crowd in the Allianz Stadium, Ireland found themselves behind after two minutes as Russia’s Marina Petrov found space down the wing and touched down.

Ireland responded with a well-worked try from Stacey Flood, and with Russia then momentarily down to six players with Kristina Seredina sin-binned for a high tackle, Williams, who was one of Ireland’s top performers over the two days, was put through a gap and touched down.

Ireland headed into the break leading 12-5, but having not played three games on day 2 before, there was a worry that the toll of the previous games may have an impact.

With this in mind, Eddy utilised his bench, however the Russians capitalised on some disjointed organisation and brought themselves level at 12-all. As time ticked on, replacements Susan Vaughan and Chloe Blackmore defended valiantly to keep the Russians at bay.

Referee Matthew Rodden blew the whistle on normal time, meaning that the match went to extra-time with the Golden Point (first to score) rule in play. Tensions were running high around the Allianz Stadium.

Both sides battled to score, but it was the Russians who claimed the vital try when Elena Zdrokva scored in the 17th minute for an eventual 17-12 success, meaning Ireland had to be content with an eighth place finish.

Having finished ninth and won the Challenge Trophy in Dubai in December, IRFU Director of Sevens Eddy will be pleased with how his side are progressing. The six ranking points picked up in Australia has them sitting ninth overall in the World Series standings after two rounds.

Their impressive efforts in Sydney will see them go into Pool B at the Las Vegas Sevens at the end of February where the will have the opportunity to renew acquaintances with Fiji and Spain, along with an invitational side from South America.

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.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Women Win Through To Cup Quarter-Finals In Sydney

Saturday, February 4 –

Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland 5 USA 17
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe

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

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

5th-8th Place Play-Off: France 21 Ireland 19
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Katie Fitzhenry, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2; Con: Lucy Mulhall 2

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

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

7th-8th Place Play-Off: Ireland 12 Russia 17 (Golden Point score)
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Megan Williams, Stacey Flood, Con: Lucy Mulhall

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

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

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