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Ireland Women Pipped By Spain But Still Claim Best Ever RWC Sevens Finish Of Sixth

Ireland Women Pipped By Spain But Still Claim Best Ever RWC Sevens Finish Of Sixth

The Ireland Women’s Sevens team recorded their best ever Rugby World Cup Sevens finish of sixth overall after losing out to Spain in a hard-fought play-off which brought the curtain down on both teams’ San Francisco campaigns.

WOMEN’S RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS – 5TH-6TH PLACE PLAY-OFF: Saturday, July 21

IRELAND 7 SPAIN 12, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Eve Higgins; Con: Lucy Mulhall

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Teresa Bueso Gonez’s try just past the final hooter saw Spain prevail 12-7 in another one-score shootout between these closely-matched sides. The injury-enforced absence of attacking ace Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (hamstring) was keenly felt by Ireland, whose failure to turn a couple of dominant first half spells into tries proved crucial in the end.

Despite the last-gasp defeat, captain Lucy Mulhall and her team-mates can still take plenty of pride from their performances at AT&T Park, carving out their own piece of history with that hard-earned top-six standing, a Cup quarter-final appearance against eventual champions New Zealand, and wins over two teams ranked higher than them in the World Series – England and Russia.

Anthony Eddy’s charges, the World Cup’s ninth seeds, had plenty of momentum behind them tonight after a well-judged 20-15 victory over Russia earlier in the day. Indeed, they had also won their three most recent meetings with Spain – 17-14 in Kitakyushu and 7-0 in Langford during this season’s World Series, and 38-7 against a much-changed team in the first leg of the European Grand Prix Series in Marcoussis three weeks ago.

They had the Spanish under pressure inside the opening minute of this latest rematch – the 5th-6th place play-off at the iconic home of the San Francisco Giants – following Louise Galvin’s tapping back of the kick-off and Aoife Doyle driving up to within five metres of the try-line.

However, Galvin’s attempted pass failed to connect with Doyle, coming off her right wing, and Spain also emerged unscathed from a subsequent bout of defence near their own whitewash. Katie Fitzhenry won a penalty at the breakdown and Spain leaked two more for not rolling away.

Spanish play-maker Patricia Garcia also appeared to be offside at a ruck but referee Rebecca Mahoney let her away with it, and with Ashleigh Baxter tackled just short of the line, frustratingly Ireland had no points to show for their strong start.

The ever-wily Garcia soon got the Spanish attack into gear, Ireland leaking a couple of penalties and losing precious territory. Direct running from Garcia and Barbara Pla did the damage before Amaia Erbina feigned to pass and managed to scoot over in the right corner past the covering Stacey Flood. Garcia converted the fifth-minute try with a well-struck kick for a 7-0 lead.

The long-striding Galvin, who had won the restart cleanly, broke the defensive line and passed to Doyle who was brought to ground only three metres out. Spain knocked on in their efforts to turn the ball over, and coughed up two more penalties – a high tackle and offside – before 19-year-old rising star Eve Higgins brilliantly stepped inside two defenders for a slick score to the left of the posts. Mulhall supplied the extras for a seven-all scoreline.

Spain were first to threaten in the second half and Mulhall and Baxter had to produce vital tackles to prevent a breakaway try. Replacement Audrey O’Flynn was first in at the breakdown to win a relieving penalty, but the Spanish were winding up for a big finish and their passing game had Ireland covering a lot of ground in defence.

Fitzhenry was unfortunate with a breakdown decision which went against her, and Ireland also handed back possession courtesy of an O’Flynn knock-on on the edge of the Irish 22. Baxter came to the rescue when holding up Marina Bravo with just inches to spare, but Spain were not to be denied. Going wide from a last-minute scrum, a clever wraparound move involving Pla left Doyle and O’Flynn both on the deck and Gones had enough pace to get over in the left corner past Fitzhenry.

2018 WOMEN’S RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS – FINAL PLACINGS:

1. New Zealand (Cup Champions)
2. France
3. Australia
4. USA
5. Spain
6. IRELAND
7.
Canada
8. Russia
9. England (Challenge Champions)
10. Japan
11. Fiji
12. China
13. Brazil
14. South Africa
15. Papua New Guinea
16. Mexico

Click here to view the full Rugby World Cup Sevens results and daily round-ups.

TIME LINE: 5 minutes – Spain try: Amaia Erbina – 0-5; conversion: Patricia Garcia – 0-7; 7+1 mins – Ireland try: Eve Higgins – 5-7; conversion: Lucy Mulhall – 7-7; Half-time – Ireland 7 Spain 7; 14+1 mins – Spain try: Teresa Bueso Gonez – 7-12; Full-time – Ireland 7 Spain 12

Team: Louise Galvin, Katie Fitzhenry, Ashleigh Baxter, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle.

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

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.

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

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, AT&T Park, San Francisco, USA, Friday, July 20-Saturday, July 21):

Kathy Baker (Blackrock/Leinster)
Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Claire Boles (Railway Union/Ulster)
Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Railway Union/Munster)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemian/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 Women’s Sevens Programme)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

IRELAND WOMEN’S RWC SEVENS Results –

Friday, July 20:

Round of 16: England 14 Ireland 19, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Ashleigh Baxter, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2

Match Report: Murphy Crowe Double Does The Damage For Ireland Women Against England

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

Sub used: Audrey O’Flynn. Not used: Hannah Tyrrell, Kathy Baker, Eve Higgins, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland 0 New Zealand 45, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Scorers: Ireland: –

Match Report: Ireland Women To Face Russia Following Cup Quarter-Final Exit

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

Subs used: Eve Higgins, Audrey O’Flynn, Hannah Tyrrell, Kathy Baker, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

Saturday, July 21:

5th-8th Place Play-Off: Ireland 20 Russia 15, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Stacey Flood, Eve Higgins, Lucy Mulhall, Louise Galvin

Match Report: Mulhall Praises Ireland’s ‘Teamwork And Grit’ After Pulsating Play-Off Win

Team: Louise Galvin, Katie Fitzhenry, Ashleigh Baxter, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle.

Sub used: Audrey O’Flynn. Not used: Hannah Tyrrell, Kathy Baker, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

5th-6th Place Play-Off: Ireland 7 Spain 12, AT&T Park, San Francisco
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Eve Higgins; Con: Lucy Mulhall

Team: Louise Galvin, Katie Fitzhenry, Ashleigh Baxter, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle.

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