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Ireland Women Save Best For Last With Big Win Over England

Ireland Women Save Best For Last With Big Win Over England

Ireland recovered from a sluggish start to the Kazan leg of the Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series to dish out a 27-point beating to England and set up a Cup quarter-final against Scotland tomorrow morning (kick-off 11.06am local time/9.06am Irish time).

Hannah Tyrrell’s third try of the tournament, coupled with scores from Claire Boles, Aoife Doyle and Megan Burns (2), powered the Ireland Women to a comprehensive win over England and a runners-up finish in Pool C, level on seven points with Poland.

A mix of fresh young talent and both fringe and experienced players are representing Ireland in the Russian city, with plenty of excitement surrounding the debuts of teenagers Burns, Anna Doyle, Brittany Hogan and Emily Lane, who captained the Ireland Under-18s to the UK School Games title just a year ago.

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The four new caps join an ever-growing list of players who have progressed through the IRFU Women’s Development pathway to senior representative level – Boles, Aoife Doyle, Katie Heffernan, Anna McGann and Emma Murphy, who are also playing in Kazan, are products of the system, as are Stacey Flood, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and 2018 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Rookie of the Year nominee Eve Higgins.

Poland were Ireland’s first round opponents at the Central Stadium and the breakthrough came midway through the first half, good ball retention following an initial Claire Keohane break ending with Tyrrell jinking her way through from outside the 22. Captain Keohane converted from straight in front of the posts, but Poland quickly hit back with a well-worked score from Katarzyna Paszczyk.

The athletic Polish side struck for a second try and a 12-7 lead past the half-time hooter, their angles of running and accurate passing stretching the Irish defence and freeing up Natalia Pamieta for a neat finish in the right corner. The size of Ireland’s task grew with Poland notching an early second half try, Anna Klichowska handing off replacement Murphy and striding clear for a fine breakaway score, despite the best efforts of Tyrrell over the line.

Direct running from Anna Doyle, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird and Tyrrell put Ireland on the front foot and they were rewarded with a try out wide from Aoife Doyle, set up by passes from Tyrrell and Anna Doyle. Tyrrell added a pinpoint conversion to close the gap to three points (17-14) with as many minutes remaining, but Poland hung on to ensure a losing start for the much-changed girls in green.

Dropped balls and a real lack of territory had Stan McDowell’s charges under early pressure against Italy, who were held up from a tap penalty before the resulting scrum saw Sofia Stefan’s diagonal run take her past both Lane and Keohane for a third-minute converted try.

A try-saving tackle by Tyrrell, followed by a Lane interception, helped Ireland get back on track with Limerick speedster Doyle beginning to find some holes in the Italian defence. Further space near halfway allowed Nic a Bhaird dart clear from 60 metres out for a timely try, reducing the deficit to 7-5 at the interval.

Keohane’s steal at the breakdown launched the green shirts forward on the resumption, building through the phases past halfway before Heffernan’s flat pass out of a tackle released Tyrrell and the rangy Dubliner expertly rounded the final defender to score. That all-important ninth-minute try was converted from close range by Keohane.

Tyrrell stepped in at out-half following Keohane’s withdrawal, finding a very good touch from a penalty to send Ireland back into the Azzurre’s half. The closing minutes were scrappy with big tackles from McGann, Boles and Nic a Bhaird flooring the onrushing Italians and a Burns turnover allowed Heffernan to kick the ball dead and confirm a hard-fought 12-7 triumph.

Ireland were much more decisive winners against England, dominating this crunch clash for long spells and putting five tries and 27 points on the board. The clean sheet in defence offered further encouragement heading into day two and the early morning quarter-final with a Scotland team packed with 15s international experience.

Enniskillen native Boles’ early interception paved the way for her try after just 59 seconds against England. Lane took Ireland up to their opponents’ 22-metre line before nice hands from Keohane, who cut back against the grain, and Tyrrell released Boles to go over in the left corner.

Aggressive defence kept England pinned back in their 22 and forced a knock-on, and Aoife Doyle’s sidestep and burst for the line made it 12-0. Just before half-time, Nic a Bhaird’s ability to break a tackle saw her charge over halfway and Heffernan then passed out of a tackle for the supporting Burns, who had bounced up quickly from the previous ruck, to open her try-scoring account at senior level.

17-0 became 22-0 by the ninth minute as hard running again from Nic a Bhaird and Boles splintered the English defence and brought Ireland swiftly into scoring range. Boles was held up after intercepting a pass a few metres out, but Tyrrell’s long limbs aided her when she stretched out to ground the ball on the line in the very next phase.

Burns completed a memorable brace in the 11th minute, showing impressive pace and strength to score wide on the left following a return pass from Anna Doyle, who had intelligently stepped inside two defenders and fed her team-mate on the outside. All of the Irish bench saw action late on with England well contained in and around the halfway line.

Relive the Ireland Women’s and Men’s Sevens teams’ 2017/18 campaigns 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 Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series – Round 2, Central Stadium, Kazan, Russia, Saturday, September 1-Sunday, September 2):

Megan Burns (Tullamore/Leinster) *
Claire Boles (Railway Union/Ulster)
Anna Doyle (Tullow/Leinster) *
Aoife Doyle (Railway Union/Shannon (dual status)/Munster)
Katie Heffernan (Railway Union/Mullingar (dual status)/Leinster)
Brittany Hogan (Cooke/Ulster) *
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemian/Munster) (capt)
Emily Lane (Mallow/Munster) *
Anna McGann (UCD/Leinster)
Emma Murphy (Railway Union/Leinster)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

* Denotes uncapped player


Saturday, September 1 –

Pool C:

Ireland 14 Poland 17, Central Stadium, Kazan
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hannah Tyrrell, Aoife Doyle; Cons: Claire Keohane, Hannah Tyrrell

FULL VIDEO REPLAY – POOL C: IRELAND 14 POLAND 17 (50:20-1:12:32) by Rugby Europe

Team: Claire Boles, Katie Heffernan, Brittany Hogan, Emily Lane, Claire Keohane (capt), Aoife Doyle, Hannah Tyrrell.

Subs: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Megan Burns, Anna Doyle, Anna McGann, Emma Murphy.

Ireland 12 Italy 7, Central Stadium, Kazan
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Hannah Tyrrell; Con: Claire Keohane

FULL VIDEO REPLAY – POOL C: IRELAND 12 ITALY 7 (44:26-1:03:26) by Rugby Europe

Team: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Katie Heffernan, Brittany Hogan, Emily Lane, Claire Keohane (capt), Aoife Doyle, Hannah Tyrrell.

Subs: Claire Boles, Megan Burns, Anna Doyle, Anna McGann, Emma Murphy.

Ireland 27 England 0, Central Stadium, Kazan
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Claire Boles, Aoife Doyle, Megan Burns 2, Hannah Tyrrell; Con: Claire Keohane

FULL VIDEO REPLAY – POOL C: IRELAND 27 ENGLAND 0 (43:42-1:02:56) by Rugby Europe

Team: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Katie Heffernan, Claire Boles, Emily Lane, Claire Keohane (capt), Aoife Doyle, Hannah Tyrrell.

Subs: Brittany Hogan, Megan Burns, Anna Doyle, Anna McGann, Emma Murphy.

Sunday, September 2 –

Cup Quarter-Final: Scotland v Ireland, Central Stadium, Kazan, 11.06am local time/9.06am Irish time

The full results, fixtures and pools are available on the Rugby Europe tournament page.