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Murphy Crowe And Flood Fire Ireland Women Into Last-Eight In Langford

Murphy Crowe And Flood Fire Ireland Women Into Last-Eight In Langford

After missing out in Kitakyushu three weeks ago, the Ireland Women broke back into the Cup quarter-final line-up with a strong opening day at the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series tournament in Langford.

The girls in green continue to have the measure of Spain, kicking off the Canada 7s with a gritty 7-0 win over their European rivals, while they ran up their highest ever score against World Series leaders Australia in a 31-19 defeat, and were a whisker away from claiming the scalp of hosts Canada in the final round of the pool stages.

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Charity Williams’ last-gasp try saw the Canadians prevail 19-17 in a thrilling six-try shootout, but Ireland did enough to advance to the Cup quarter-finals as one of the best third-placed teams and set up a last-eight date with Pool B winners France at Westhills Stadium today (kick-off 9.20am local time/5.20pm Irish time).

Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe ran in four tries during the Pool C campaign, taking her Irish all-time record to 45 tries, while dynamic play-maker Stacey Flood finished day one joint-top of the DHL Performance Tracker list with 30 points (12 tackles, four breaks, one offload and 13 carries). Louise Galvin, Ashleigh Baxter and 18-year-old starlet Eve Higgins also stood out for Anthony Eddy’s team.

In sunny and humid conditions, Ireland claimed their seventh victory in ten World Series meetings with Spain, overcoming the Cup semi-finalists from Kitakyushu with a tenacious first round performance. Captain Lucy Mulhall did well to win an early penalty at the breakdown but her side were unable to convert over two minutes’ worth of possession into points, with Spain holding them out on the edge of the 22.

The deadlock was broken in the third minute, Barbara Pla doing really well to haul down the dangerous Murphy Crowe short of the try-line before Flood tapped a penalty and scooped a lovely long pass out for Galvin to gather and speed in around behind the posts. The try was converted by Mulhall.

Seven points was the margin at the break, a succession of Spanish penalties inviting Ireland forward but they failed to manufacture another scoring opportunity. Although Ireland’s passing was loose at times, Kerry native Galvin continued to show her ability to beat the first defender. It continued to be tight and tense up to the final hooter, Ireland using their territorial hold to see out a hard-fought win.

Audrey O’Flynn and Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird were brought in as starters against Australia. The top seeds were quick out of the blocks, hoovering up the kick-off and Charlotte Caslick released Dominique du Toit who got the better of Katie Fitzhenry on the right wing to touch down inside 30 seconds.

Another missed tackle allowed the Australians to send Emma Sykes over for try number two which she converted herself with aplomb. The one-way traffic continued with Emma Tonegato getting away from O’Flynn to make it 17-0 and, following a missed penalty kick to touch from Mulhall, Shannon Parry finished off a fourth try and the best of the lot with all seven players involved.

With his side trailing 24-0 at half-time, coach Eddy called for ‘hard, direct running’ and the players responded with a much-improved second half display. They put pace on the ball and found gaps through Flood, Fitzhenry and Baxter. Flood used a penalty in the 22 to dart out to the right and send Murphy-Crowe over in the right corner.

The same two players combined to set up Ireland’s second try by the midpoint of the half. Murphy Crowe seized turnover ball off the side of an Australian ruck, Flood broke deep into the 22 and was stopped short after linking with Murphy Crowe, but teenager Higgins was quickly on the scene to pick up and cut past Yasmin Meakes for a well-taken converted try – 24-12.

Ireland’s comeback bid was thwarted by Tonegato’s second score as she evaded the clutches of Hannah Tyrrell on a break from just inside the Australian half, but Mulhall and her team-mates made sure they took some decent momentum into the final round with a strong carry from Nic a Bhaird and a superb 60-metre try from Murphy Crowe, who slipped away from two defenders to canter in under the posts.

Taking on Canada in an exciting showdown for second place, Ireland stunned the host nation with a try after just 22 seconds. Galvin spun out of a tackle and released Murphy Crowe to dash clear of Canada captain Ghislaine Landry and score at the posts. Mulhall’s conversion was followed by leg-pumping runs from Baxter, Mulhall and O’Flynn soon after as Ireland continued to cause problems for the home defence.

Although Hannah Darling used a neat switch with Landry to bring Canada level in the fourth minute, Ireland regained the lead with a second effort from Murphy Crowe past the half-time hooter. Profiting from a brilliant Baxter turnover at the breakdown, the Tipperary speedster outstripped the Canadian defence on the outside and the covering Landry could not catch her, making it 12-7 at the turnaround.

An overcooked restart kick from Mulhall handed possession back to Canada and their bench making an immediate impact. Natasha Watcham-Roy struck for a try after Darling had been brought down short. Landry missed the conversion at 12-all, and more direct running from Higgins and Mulhall, coupled with a penalty, moved Ireland back into try-scoring range.

Despite an initial loss of possession, it was Baxter’s efforts at the breakdown which secured a key turnover penalty. Higgins then had a cut, driving hard into the 22, and Flood swiftly exploited space on the left, throwing a dummy and using a hand-off to notch Ireland’s third try. Unfortunately Mulhall missed the left-sided conversion and that proved vital in the end.

The Canadians had two minutes left to find a match winner. Ireland had possession and a penalty inside the Canada 22, but the home side competed ferociously at the breakdown, grabbing a hard-earned turnover and replacement Williams’ pace proved too much as she broke from deep, getting away from Kathy Baker and Fitzhenry to scorch in under the posts. Landry comfortably converted and Ireland had a second successive series win over Canada ripped from their grasp.

World Rugby are broadcasting the Canada 7s games via www.worldrugby.org and the World Rugby Sevens Facebook page – www.facebook.com/worldrugby7s. The Canada 7s is the fourth stage of the World Series, with the final stop in Paris on June 8-10.

The Ireland Men’s and Women’s Sevens teams will both compete at July’s Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in San Francisco, and tickets are available to buy online here.

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

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

– Photos by Sam O’Byrne and Neil Kennedy

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2017/18 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series – Canada 7s, Westhills Stadium, Langford, Canada, Saturday, May 12-Sunday, May 13):

Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Kathy Baker (Blackrock/Leinster)
Claire Boles (Railway Union/Ulster)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (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)


Saturday, May 12 –

Pool C:

Spain 0 Ireland 7, Westhills Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Louise Galvin; Con: Lucy Mulhall

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

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

Australia 31 Ireland 19, Westhills Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2, Eve Higgins; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2

Team: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Audrey O’Flynn, Katie Fitzhenry, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eve Higgins, Stacey Flood.

Subs used: Ashleigh Baxter, Claire Boles, Hannah Tyrrell. Not used: Louise Galvin, Kathy Baker.

Ireland 17 Canada 19, Westhills Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2, Stacey Flood; Con: Lucy Mulhall

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

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

Sunday, May 13 –

Cup Quarter-Final: France v Ireland, Westhills Stadium, 9.20am local time/5.20pm Irish time

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.