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Ireland Women Progress To Cup Quarter-Finals In Canada

Ireland Women Progress To Cup Quarter-Finals In Canada

The Ireland Women clinched a Cup quarter-final berth at the Canada 7s in Langford thanks to Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe’s hat-trick of tries in the final round against Spain. They will take on France in tomorrow’s play-offs at 11.14am local time/7.14pm Irish time.

In humid 20-plus degree temperatures, Pool C runners-up Ireland qualified for their third Cup quarter-final appearance of the current HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series following on from their top-eight finishes in Sydney and Las Vegas.

Louise Galvin and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe were both to the fore in a vital 21-0 victory over Spain, the former impressing with her restart work and offloading while the quicksilver Murphy Crowe ran in four of Ireland’s six tries during the pool stages.

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Anthony Eddy’s charges had set the tone earlier in the day with a fantastic 19-14 comeback win over Fiji at Langford’s Westhills Stadium – a huge turnaround from the sides’ last meeting in Kitakyushu where the flying Fijians had romped home by a clear 45 points.

Ireland were unable to take their first half chances, including one gilt-edged opportunity before half-time, and they paid the price as a late breakaway score from Timaima Rosi Lulutai Ravisa gave Fiji a 7-0 interval lead. The deficit would have been more but for a couple of tremendous cover tackles – and a turnover at the breakdown – from the never-say-die Galvin.

A second converted score from Talica Vodo had the South Sea Islanders 14 points to the good, but Ireland dug deep to get back level by the 13th minute. Firstly, Galvin claimed possession from the restart just outside her 22 and then stepped and broke clear from halfway for an excellent individual try converted by captain Lucy Mulhall.

Mullingar’s Katie Heffernan, making her World Series debut at just 18, pounced for the levelling try after a Murphy Crowe break and a quick tap from Mulhall. Kim Flood, whose sister Stacey provided the final pass, squared things up with a brilliant conversion from the touchline.

Ireland saved the best for last, conjuring up the match-winning five-pointer in the dying seconds. Another textbook high, hanging restart from Mulhall allowed Galvin to compete in the air and the ball broke for Heffernan to carry strongly up into the 22. Neat handling and footwork from both Kim and Stacey Flood opened up space on the right for Mulhall and she sent Murphy Crowe over in the corner, with Aloesi Nakoci’s high tackle seeing her sin-binned.

That encouraging result gave Ireland some momentum to take into their second round clash with Australia and they were the better team in a scoreless first half. Sene Naoupu had one notable break out of her own half, while hard hits from Audrey O’Flynn and Galvin typified a tenacious Irish defence.

However, the Australians broke the deadlock in the 10th minute when Heffernan was dispossessed in the tackle and the ball was moved wide for Emilee Cherry to score. Chloe Dalton converted and also added the extras to her own subsequent try, and Charlotte Caslick danced up the right touchline to add a flattering third try past the hooter, making it 21-0 in the end.

Ireland bounced back to win their final pool game by the same margin, as the pace and finishing skills of Murphy Crowe proved too much for Spain. A lovely switch involving Galvin and Murphy Crowe saw the Tipperary flyer break in between two defenders for a third-minute opener.

Mulhall knocked over the conversion and then tagged on bonuses again from a very tight angle barely a minute later. After Galvin battled hard to gobble up another restart, Murphy Crowe used her gas to burn off a defender on the outside and give Ireland a 14-0 buffer at the break.

Ireland’s well-drilled defence continue to frustrate Spain in the second half, and the strong-running Galvin again providing the assist for Murphy Crowe’s hat-trick score, a final fend allowing the 22-year-old to stretch her all-time Irish record in the series to 28 tries in 45 matches.

The 21-point advantage gave Eddy the opportunity to empty his bench over the concluding five minutes, with teenage duo Heffernan and Chloe Blackmore among the players to get more game-time. Of the tournament player stats after day 1, Murphy Crowe features prominently with 12 carries, five line-breaks and four tries, while Ashleigh Baxter (9 tackles), Stacey Flood (11 carries) and Galvin and Mulhall (10 carries each) are also high up the lists.

France, who finished second to hosts Canada in Pool B with two wins, will be Ireland’s Cup quarter-final opponents tomorrow. Ireland have never beaten les Bleues in the World Series, falling to six defeats overall. However, their recent reversals in Sydney (21-19) and Las Vegas (15-5) were both tight encounters.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series – Canada Sevens, Westhills Stadium, Langford, British Columbia, Canada, Saturday, May 27-Sunday, May 28):

Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Chloe Blackmore (St. Mary’s/Munster)
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Katie Heffernan (Mullingar/Railway Union (dual status)/Leinster)
Anna McGann (UCD/Leinster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum/Leinster) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls)
Audrey O’Flynn (Ireland Sevens Programme)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Results –

Canada 7s – Pool C:

Saturday, May 27

Fiji 14 Ireland 19, Westhills Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Louise Galvin, Katie Heffernan, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe; Cons: Lucy Mulhall, Kim Flood

Team: Audrey O’Flynn, Sene Naoupu, Ashleigh Baxter, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood, Louise Galvin.

Subs used: Hannah Tyrrell, Kim Flood, Katie Heffernan; Not used: Claire Keohane, Chloe Blackmore.

Australia 21 Ireland 0, Westhills Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: –

Team: Audrey O’Flynn, Sene Naoupu, Ashleigh Baxter, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood, Louise Galvin.

Subs used: Claire Keohane, Hannah Tyrrell, Kim Flood, Katie Heffernan, Chloe Blackmore.

Ireland 21 Spain 0, Westhills Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 3; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3

Team: Audrey O’Flynn, Sene Naoupu, Ashleigh Baxter, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood, Louise Galvin.

Subs used: Claire Keohane, Hannah Tyrrell, Kim Flood, Katie Heffernan, Chloe Blackmore.

Sunday, May 28

Cup Quarter-Final: France v Ireland, Westhills Stadium, 11.14am local time/7.14pm Irish time

Canada Sevens – Full Fixtures/Results

For more on the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad in Langford, follow Irish Rugby on Twitter @IrishRugby, on Instagram @IrishRugby and on www.facebook.com/irishrugby. For more information on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, visit http://www.worldrugby.org/womens-sevens-series.