Jump to main content

Menu

Ireland Women Beat Canada For First Time But Lose Challenge Trophy Final

Ireland Women Beat Canada For First Time But Lose Challenge Trophy Final

Ireland’s consistency of performance improved on the final day of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Kitakyushu. They achieved their first series win over Canada at the ninth attempt, before running the USA very close in a Challenge Trophy final that could have gone either way.

Sent down to the lower bracket of the play-offs after losing to Australia and surprise packets China, the Ireland Women stung Canada with a 24-19 extra-time victory which saw 19-year-old new cap Kathy Baker cross for the match-winning try before being mobbed by her team-mates.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Unfortunately for Stan McDowell’s industrious side, that scoreline was reversed in the Challenge Trophy final against the USA. Eve Higgins (18) joined Baker in scoring her first World Series try before captain Lucy Mulhall’s try in the final play – repeating her feat from the Canada game – took the game into extra-time.

Nicole Heavirland completed her brace to confirm the American win, leaving Ireland 10th of the twelve competing teams in Japan and plenty to work on ahead of the next leg of the series in Langford, Canada on May 12-13.

Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, the 22-year-old flyer, took her Irish all-time World Series try-scoring record to 41 tries over the weekend, making it ten in 16 games this season, while also finishing fifth on the DHL Performance Tracker list with 46 points (22 tackles, five line-breaks, two offloads and 17 carries).

A heavy collision from the kick-off against Canada left Ireland down to six players, with play continuing while Louise Galvin received treatment. It was a breathless start to the Challenge Trophy semi-final from both sides, Stacey Flood making an important tackle in her 22 before Hannah Darling was sin-binned for pulling back Murphy Crowe by the hair.

The Canadians coped well during Darling’s absence and when she returned, Bianca Farella unlocked the Irish defence with a superb solo try in the fifth minute, converted by Julia Greenshields from straight in front. Seven points was the difference at half-time in a tight contest.

Murphy Crowe made Canada pay for a poor restart kick, Flood and Mulhall putting pace on the ball from the tap and the Tipperary speedster had the pace to get away from Charity Williams on the outside and sprint clear from the Canadian 10-metre line. Mulhall tagged on the extras to bring Ireland level.

The girls in green lost their skipper to the sin-bin soon after, seeing yellow for a deliberate knock back of a Canadian pass, and strong running and accurate passing put Darling over to make it 12-7. The momentum see-sawed again as Flood got Ireland on the front foot with a burst of pace and Katie Fitzhenry fixed Darling with some neat footwork and darted clear for a smashing score. Teenager Higgins sent the conversion wide.

A slick one-two between Megan Lukan and Greenshields saw the latter claim Canada’s third try for a 19-12 scoreline, although the match officials missed a forward pass in the build-up. Nonetheless, with just over 30 seconds left, Galvin gobbled up the restart and Ireland patiently worked their way downfield with replacements Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird and Katie Heffernan putting in some leg-pumping carries.

Canada infringed on a couple of occasions in their attempts to force a match-winning turnover, but from a penalty on halfway, Mulhall released Murphy Crowe out wide and she stepped inside Farella to allow the supporting Mulhall run the try in closer to the posts. The captain coolly landed the conversion to set up extra-time at 19-all.

Ireland were the aggressors when play resumed, Galvin taking down the restart and Higgins combining with Heffernan to bring her side into Canadian territory. Williams coughed up another ruck penalty, and with Higgins diving on a loose ball that had come off her shin, vital possession was retained. In the very next phase, Galvin was fed on the right wing and stood up two defenders, passing for the overlapping Baker to collect the pass and gleefully score the match winner to the right of the posts.

That left Ireland playing for the Challenge Trophy, a title they won in the series opener in Dubai. However, they were unable to break through a well-organised USA defence early on and Heavirland’s fourth-minute try, after Alev Kelter had gone close, gave the American outfit a seven-point advantage.

Some clever interplay between Galvin and Flood got the Irish attack on the move, and possession was moved to both wings before Galvin spotted her opportunity to pick from a ruck near the American 10-metre line, darting up the blindside and showing impressive strength to touch down despite a cover tackle from Kelter.

Ireland turned a 7-5 half-time deficit into a 12-7 lead thanks to Higgins’ terrific individual try, which saw her outfox Kelter with a classy show-and-go to prize open the defence in midfield. Mulhall’s restart did not go ten metres, though, and the twin threats of Cheta Emba and Naya Tapper saw the US hit back swiftly. The latter scored in the left corner after some powerful phase play.

Kelter lobbed over a difficult conversion for a 14-7 scoreline, and it was the former national underage soccer and ice hockey player who finished off the next try, although Kate Zackary’s final pass looked suspiciously forward. Kelter failed to convert her try at 19-12, giving Ireland some late hope in the final seconds.

Nic a Bhaird again provided the impact off the bench, carrying forcefully up past halfway, and Mulhall showed her leadership and breaking ability with a tremendous step and dash for the line from 60 metres out, beating two defenders in the process. The Rathdrum clubwoman converted to set up a sudden death scenario.

Disappointingly for McDowell’s charges, it was the USA who took the spoils. A very harsh penalty against Flood, who stood her ground as a leaping Kris Thomas claimed the restart kick above her, gave the Americans the momentum, and Heavirland managed to snaffle possession a couple of metres out and dive over to clinch the result.

The Ireland Sevens jerseys are available to buy online here from Elverys Intersport, official sports retailer of the IRFU.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2017/18 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series – Kitakyushu 7s, Mikuni World Stadium, Kitakyushu, Japan, Saturday, April 21-Sunday, April 22):

Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Kathy Baker (Blackrock/Leinster) *
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Katie Heffernan (Mullingar/Railway Union/Leinster)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Audrey O’Flynn (Ireland Sevens)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

* Denotes uncapped player at this level

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS RESULTS – KITAKYUSHU 7s:

Saturday, April 21 –

Pool A:

Spain 14 Ireland 17, Mikuni World Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Louise Galvin, Stacey Flood; Con: Lucy Mulhall

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

Subs used: Kathy Baker, Hannah Tyrrell. Not used: Katie Heffernan, Eve Higgins, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

Australia 31 Ireland 0, Mikuni World Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: –

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

Subs used: Kathy Baker, Hannah Tyrrell. Not used: Katie Heffernan, Eve Higgins, Deirbhille Nic a Bhaird.

Ireland 12 China 24, Mikuni World Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Audrey O’Flynn, Katie Heffernan; Con: Lucy Mulhall

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

Subs used: Kathy Baker, Hannah Tyrrell, Katie Heffernan, Eve Higgins. Not used: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

Day 1 Round-Up: Successive Defeats Take Shine Off Ireland’s Promising Start

Sunday, April 22 –

Challenge Trophy Semi-Final: Canada 19 Ireland 24 (after extra-time), Mikuni World Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Katie Fitzhenry, Lucy Mulhall, Kathy Baker; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2

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

Subs used: Katie Heffernan, Kathy Baker, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird. Not used: Audrey O’Flynn, Hannah Tyrrell.

Challenge Trophy Final: USA 24 Ireland 19 (after extra-time), Mikuni World Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Louise Galvin, Eve Higgins, Lucy Mulhall; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2

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

Subs used: Katie Heffernan, Kathy Baker, Hannah Tyrrell, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird. Not used: Audrey O’Flynn.

Kitakyushu 7s – HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Full Results

HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series: Current Standings

Follow the Ireland Women’s and Men’s Sevens teams this season in our exclusive behind the scenes series – On The Road with the Ireland 7s.

For more information on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, visit www.worldrugby.org/sevens-series.