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Ireland Under-18 Women Advance As Pool Winners in Vichy

Ireland Under-18 Women Advance As Pool Winners in Vichy

Ireland strung together three wins, scoring 21 tries in the process, to top Pool D on the opening day of the Rugby Europe Under-18 Women’s Sevens Championship in Vichy. Matthew Wilkie’s side will play Russia, the Pool A runners-up, in the Cup quarter-finals tomorrow morning (11.42am local time/10.42am Irish time).

The tournament is doubling up as the European qualifying event for the Youth Olympic Games which takes place in Buenos Aires, Argentina this October. Only the champions will progress to Buenos Aires and Ireland have emerged as one of the leading contenders alongside fellow unbeaten pool winners Great Britain, France and Spain.

Co-captains Anna Doyle and Dorothy Wall, two of the six players who played in the 2017 European competition, led by example with Doyle crossing for five tries during the pool stages. Megan Burns and newcomers Beibhinn Parsons and Maggie Boylan also impressed with ball in hand, scoring in each of Ireland’s three games so far.

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Ireland dominated from start to finish in a 50-0 opening win over a game Latvia side, with Doyle scorching over after just 26 seconds for the first of the eight tries. Wall then went in under the posts via her own penalty win at the breakdown, and Burns burst clear from over 40 metres out for a score which she converted herself.

Boylan’s steal on the ground, coupled with Wall’s pass after being tackled to the ground, sent Doyle over for try number four and a 26-0 half-time lead. A slow-burning second half was scoreless until replacement Parsons’ terrific 70-metre break saw her go over unopposed, her Ballinasloe club-mate Meabh Deely converting.

Boylan, who was a lively replacement, cut past two defenders and added the extras herself, and IQ Rugby recruit Alexandra Dunne and Parsons helped to release Saoirse O’Reilly up the right touchline for Ireland’s penultimate try.

Parsons completed her brace after an initial break over halfway from Grace Browne Moran and Deely, who had launched the attack from a turnover, was up in support to provide the final pass as the girls in green hit the half-century mark.

A heavy rain shower saw conditions worsen considerably for the second round of matches, but Ireland coped well and a neat exchange between Doyle and Parsons saw the latter open the scoring against Andorra, two minutes in. Parsons then returned the favour to set up Doyle for a well-taken second try on the opposite right wing.

Burns’ arcing run from her own 10-metre line took her clear for a solo score which she converted herself from straight in front, and tigerish work from Kelly McCormill forced the turnover which led to Doyle’s second try of the game and a 24-0 advantage at the interval.

The second half was only 20 seconds’ old when Doyle scooted and stepped her way up the left wing to complete her hat-trick from deep. Deely fired over a well-struck conversion and also added the extras to Wall’s subsequent effort which saw her slice in between two defenders.

Deely supplied the assist for the speedy O’Reilly to dart over and fellow replacements Katelynn Doran and Boylan also got in on the act in the closing stages, the former scoring via Boylan’s initial turnover. Dunne drove up close to the line before Deely managed to weave in under the posts and Boylan saved the best to last, her impressive footwork taking her past five defenders to round off a resounding 64-0 success.

The pool decider saw Ireland come up against a Netherlands team that had also beaten Andorra (68-0) and Latvia (43-0) in very convincing fashion. Carrick-on-Suir starlet Boylan continued where she left off in the last round, bumping off a tackle straight from the kick-off and burning past a second defender on the outside to run in a 60-metre opening try after barely 20 seconds.

There were two minutes on the clock when Burns darted through a gap over halfway and showed her speed and strength to reach over to the left of the posts despite the best efforts of the chasing Helen van Hattem. Deely converted before the Dutch came right back into it, closing the gap to 12-0 by half-time thanks to tries from Esra van Ramele (3 minutes) and Britt Temmink (7).

Parsons, who came on at half-time, helped to wrestle back control of the game for Ireland. She battled hard to win Deely’s restart and popped up a few minutes later to go on the outside of two defenders and run in a terrific try from just inside the Irish half. Deely’s conversion gave Ireland a nine-point cushion and they needed it as a 50-50 penalty call allowed the Netherlands to build for a third try, scored by Temmink.

Four points was the difference and Ireland held onto their 19-15 lead in a tense finish, Browne Moran and Burns carrying well from a penalty near the Irish 10-metre line before the hooter sounded and Deely booted the ball to touch to confirm the clean sweep of pool victories.

The girls in green are back in action when the knockout stages begin tomorrow morning – they face Russia at 11.42am local time/10.42am Irish time. Rugby Europe are providing a live stream of the matches from France via www.rugbyeurope.tv.

IRELAND UNDER-18 WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2018 Rugby Europe Under-18 Women’s Sevens Championship, Stade Darragon, Vichy, France, Saturday, April 28-Sunday, April 29):

Maggie Boylan (Carrick-On-Suir RFC/Munster)
Grace Browne Moran (Westport RFC/Connacht)
Megan Burns (Tullamore RFC/Leinster)
Meabh Deely (Ballinasloe RFC/Connacht)
Katelynn Doran (Port Dara RFC/Leinster)
Anna Doyle (Tullow RFC/Leinster) (co-capt)
Alexandra Dunne (Denston College/IQ Rugby)
Lucinda Kinghan (Monaghan RFC/Ulster)
Kelly McCormill (Monaghan RFC/Ulster)
Saoirse O’Reilly (Wicklow RFC/Leinster)
Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe RFC/Connacht)
Dorothy Wall (Fethard RFC/Munster) (co-capt)

IRELAND UNDER-18 WOMEN’S SEVENS Management:

Head Coach – Matthew Wilkie
Assistant Coach – Adam Griggs
Women’s Sevens Programme Manager – Eimear Flannery
Team Manager – Elaine Ryan
Physiotherapist – Niamh Connolly

IRELAND UNDER-18 WOMEN’S SEVENS Results/Fixtures –

Day 1 – Saturday, April 28:

Pool D –

Ireland U-18s 50 Latvia U-18s 0, Stade Darragon
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Anna Doyle 2, Beibhinn Parsons 2, Megan Burns, Maggie Boylan, Saoirse O’Reilly, Dorothy Wall; Cons: Meabh Deely 3, Megan Burns, Maggie Boylan

Team: Dorothy Wall (co-capt), Megan Burns, Alexandra Dunne, Anna Doyle (co-capt), Lucinda Kinghan, Maggie Boylan, Meabh Deely.

Subs used: Katelynn Doran, Beibhinn Parsons, Grace Browne Moran, Saoirse O’Reilly, Kelly McCormill.

Ireland U-18s 64 Andorra U-18s 0, Stade Darragon
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Anna Doyle 3, Dorothy Wall, Megan Burns, Beibhinn Parsons, Maggie Boylan, Katelynn Doran, Saoirse O’Reilly, Meabh Deely; Cons: Meabh Deely 5, Megan Burns, Maggie Boylan

Team: Dorothy Wall (co-capt), Grace Browne Moran, Megan Burns, Kelly McCormill, Beibhinn Parsons, Anna Doyle (co-capt), Meabh Deely.

Subs used: Lucinda Kinghan, Saoirse O’Reilly, Katelynn Doran, Maggie Boylan, Alexandra Dunne.

Ireland U-18s 19 Netherlands U-18s 15, Stade Darragon
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Maggie Boylan, Megan Burns, Beibhinn Parsons; Cons: Meabh Deely 2

Team: Dorothy Wall (co-capt), Megan Burns, Kelly McCormill, Anna Doyle (co-capt), Lucinda Kinghan, Maggie Boylan, Meabh Deely.

Subs used: Beibhinn Parsons, Alexandra Dunne, Grace Browne Moran. Not used: Katelynn Doran, Saoirse O’Reilly.

Day 2 – Sunday, April 29:

Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland U-18s v Russia U-18s, Stade Darragon, 11.42am local time/10.42am Irish time

The full tournament fixtures, pool standings and results are available to view on the Rugby Europe website.