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Ireland Women Finish On A High With First Win Over England

Ireland Women Finish On A High With First Win Over England

The Ireland Women overcame a half-time deficit to beat England for the first time in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series and rank seventh overall – their best ever finish as a core team.

Second half tries from Louise Galvin and captain Lucy Mulhall, who ran in a sumptuous solo score from halfway, did the damage for Ireland as they claimed a 14-10 victory over England in a tightly-contested 7th-8th place play-off in Langford.

The Canada leg of the World Series saw Anthony Eddy’s side advance as Pool C runners-up yesterday after posting two wins over Fiji and Spain. However, their third Cup quarter-final appearance of the season ended in disappointment as France triumphed on a 19-5 margin.

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The sides swapped five-pointers in the first half, the French first out of the blocks through Fanny Horta with Ireland responding through Stacey Flood in the fifth minute. Turnover ball was moved wide and Sene Naoupu supplied the scoring pass which saw Flood burst clear from halfway.

In general, the last pass was not going to hand for Ireland who were failing to capitalise on some promising positions. That lack of clinical edge was punished when Pauline Biscarat converted her own try after a couple of missed tackles.

The Irish knuckled down in defence with Ashleigh Baxter leading by example in terms of her sheer work-rate. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Hannah Tyrrell did really well to prevent a third French try, but that score eventually came with less than a minute remaining when Montserrat Amedee made it over.

Ireland leaked three tries again in their next outing, going down 17-0 to Russia in the 5th-8th place play-offs. Again, there was very little between the sides in the opening half, with the girls in green, and Audrey O’Flynn in particular, upping the physicality in defence.

The Russians broke the deadlock right on half-time as Alena Mikhaltsova was released to go over on the left. The conversion was missed at 5-0, but Ireland’s execution let them down in their attempts to respond – youngster Katie Heffernan was a pass away from scoring her second try of the weekend.

In the end, Russia profited from tired Irish legs in the searing heat to run in two more tries in the closing stages. Elena Zdrokova touched down in the 13th minute and Mikhaltsova added some late gloss by completing her brace.

Despite those setbacks, Ireland made sure they signed off in British Columbia with a memorable success against their English counterparts, a result which gives them eight World Series points – the same number of points that separate Ireland (28 points, ninth) from England (36, eighth) in the overall standings.

England book-ended the play-off clash with unconverted tries from teenager Holly Aitchison, who slipped past Baxter in midfield, and Katie Mason, but a superior second half performance from Ireland saw them win out after cutting down on their earlier handling errors and turnovers.

Murphy Crowe showed good strength to get within striking distance, and from a quick tap, Galvin forced her way over for a ninth minute try which Mulhall converted. The Wicklow woman then took centre stage, selling a dummy and stepping on the gas to evade three English players and score a scintillating try from 50 metres out, the attack having begun with O’Flynn gobbling up the restart out on the left wing.

Mulhall added the extras for good measure, making it 14-5 with just under four minutes remaining, and although Mason had the pace to get England into double figures, Galvin batted the restart back and Baxter, with the clock in the red, gleefully booted the ball to touch.

With the final round to come in Clermont-Ferrand on June 24-25, the girls in green’s haul of 28 points is already 17 more than they achieved in last year’s World Series. Their World Series status is also secured for 2017/18 as they are well clear of the relegation dog-fight between Spain (15 points) and Brazil (11).

Notably, Ireland skipper Mulhall is second behind Russia’s Mikhaltsova in the DHL Performance Tracker list for the current series, racking up 235 points to date with 71 tackles, 9 breaks, 12 offloads and 143 carries.

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.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Women Progress To Cup Quarter-Finals In Canada

Sunday, May 28

Cup Quarter-Final: France 19 Ireland 5, Westhills Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Stacey Flood

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, Katie Heffernan, Chloe Blackmore; Not used: Kim Flood.

5th-8th Place Play-Off: Ireland 0 Russia 17, 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; Not used: Chloe Blackmore.

7th-8th Place Play-Off: England 10 Ireland 14, Westhills Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Louise Galvin, Lucy Mulhall; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2

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

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

Canada Sevens – Full 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.