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Tough Run Of Results For Ireland Women In Dubai 7s Play-Offs

Tough Run Of Results For Ireland Women In Dubai 7s Play-Offs

The Ireland Women’s Sevens team found the going tough on the second day of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series tournament in Dubai. Defeats to eventual runners-ups Canada (24-7), England (22-17) and France (17-5) saw them finish eighth overall.

In Pics: Ireland Women Finish Eighth At Dubai World Series Leg

The latter two matches could have gone either way, with England and France both scoring last-minute tries to deny Anthony Eddy’s side. Nonetheless, it is Ireland’s second top-eight finish of the season and the tournament saw them record their best ever results against Russia (26-0 win) and eventual champions New Zealand (24-17 loss).

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Indeed, they were the only team to finish within a converted score of the Black Ferns in Dubai. Brittany Hogan, the latest member of the IRFU Sevens Programme to make her series debut, played four games and scored a try, while fellow 20-year-old Anna McGann also opened her series account and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe notched six tries, just one less than leading scorers Michaela Blyde and Bianca Farella.

The Ireland Women picked up eight series points for their efforts over the two days at the Sevens Stadium complex, leaving them seventh overall with 16 points – level with England – ahead of the third leg of the World Series in Sydney in early February.

Ireland, the Pool A runners-up, encountered the top scorers from day one in the last-eight, Canada, and they got off to a flat start. Captain Lucy Mulhall’s kick-off did not make 10 metres and strong running stretched them out wide where Kaili Lukan was freed up to score a converted try within 40 seconds.

Audrey O’Flynn very nearly responded, breaking the defensive line on the right but lacking supporting as she was hauled down a few metres short. Eve Higgins was poised to set up a dangerous attack when her pass was intercepted on the Canadian 22, Lukan soon striding down the left wing and a penalty led to Farella touching down wide on the right.

12-0 became 19-0 just past the half-time hooter, an Ashleigh Baxter knock-on as Ireland tried to break out of their 22 was turned into Canada’s third try as quick passing released Farella for a neat finish to the right of the posts. However, the girls in green improved their general play after the break and were much more accurate.

Baxter’s turnover-winning tackle and replacement Stacey Flood’s footwork to draw in two defenders led to O’Flynn darting deep into the 22, and Mulhall’s clever in-and-out run and pass sent Louise Galvin over for a well-worked try, towards the left corner. Mulhall’s crisply-struck conversion closed the gap to 12 points.

Frustratingly for Ireland, a couple of penalties pinned them back close to their own 22, and Canada’s bench wrapped up the result with Charity Williams providing the assist for Pam Buisa’s try out wide in the final minute. Incisive running from Mulhall and Hogan offered the hope of a late consolation try, but Canada won the battle of the breakdown to keep them out.

Ireland regrouped for a 5th-8th place play-off clash with old rivals England, the wind contributing to a Mulhall kick-off which did not go the distance and led to another first-minute concession. English captain Abbie Brown finished off their opening attack with a converted try, taking advantage of a couple of missed tackles by Higgins and Mulhall on Amy Wilson Hardy.

A Higgins knock-on gave England another chance to build and they touched down in the fourth minute, Alex Matthews offloading for Holly Aitchison to sprint clear from halfway and make it 12-0. Ireland should have scored from the restart, the fast-breaking Galvin hauled down short by Deborah Fleming before Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird took the wrong option in going herself with Higgins and Baxter waiting to convert an overlap.

However, they were much more clinical on the cusp of half-time as tries from Hannah Tyrrell and Mulhall had Ireland just 12-10 behind. Nic a Bhaird forced a penalty at ruck time, and from the resulting lineout, Mulhall set up an opportunity for Tyrrell to step off her left, swat a defender away and ground the ball to the left of the posts.

Tyrrell’s footwork caused problems for England again on the restart, the Dubliner also getting a pass away off the ground as Higgins managed to tie in two defenders and release Mulhall who outpaced Helena Rowland to the try-line but was off-target with her conversion to level the match.

Referee Hollie Davidson’s decision to sin bin Tyrrell for throwing the ball away before an English lineout had Ireland under pressure early in the second half. Nonetheless, they managed to hit the front in the 12th minute with a bout of hard-carrying over the gain-line, with Galvin and O’Flynn to the fore, and the latter put Murphy Crowe in under the posts for her sixth try of the tournament.

Mulhall converted to give her side a 17-12 advantage, but she dropped the restart short and England dug out a 22-17 win with pacy replacement Ellie Kildunne taking centre stage. Murphy Crowe was pinged for a high tackle and Brown used the quick tap to send Kildunne sprinting in at the left corner to level the game with two minutes remaining.

Ireland then lost a lineout inside their 10-metre line, England using the possession to attack out to the right where Kildunne managed to slip out of a tackle from Higgins and use her pace to score the decisive try, leaving Eddy’s charges to fight it out for seventh place with France, who were beaten 21-10 by Russia.

Ireland had almost all of the early possession against France, Aoife Doyle looking dangerous with two breaks and Baxter also gaining yards through the middle. An exhaustive set of phases ended with Mulhall clipping a kick towards the left corner which O’Flynn chased down but France managed to clear following a knock-on.

Grace Okema’s break from deep got the French attack firing and Shannon Izar then did the damage, breaking out of a tackle and handing off Baxter to release Camille Grassineau for a run-in from halfway. The fifth-minute try went unconverted and Ireland, who were missing the injured Galvin and Flood for their final Dubai outing, resumed in the second half with the early edge.

Nic a Bhaird did really well to gain a ruck poach and Fanny Horta’s deliberate knock-on saw her promptly sin-binned. Ireland kept the pressure on and Nic a Bhaird threw a dummy and broke a tackle from Grassineau to score an unconverted ninth-minute try, tying things up at five points apiece.

There were turnovers and knock-ons as both sides upped the intensity again in pursuit for victory, and it France who nipped back in front with two minutes to go. Izar and Caroline Drouin combined to send Carla Neissen over in the right corner, and with replacement McGann yellow carded for not being back 10 metres for a penalty, Neissen supplied the scoring pass for Anne Cecile Ciofani’s clinching try, 17-5 the final score.

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

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2018/19 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series – Dubai 7s, Sevens Stadium, Dubai, UAE, Thursday, November 29-Friday, November 30):

Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Railway Union/Munster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)
Brittany Hogan (Railway Union/Ulster) *
Anna McGann (UCD/Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere/Munster)
Audrey O’Flynn (Ireland Sevens)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

* Denotes uncapped player at this level


Thursday, November 29 –

Pool A:

Ireland 26 Russia 0, Sevens Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Louise Galvin, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2, Anna McGann; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3

Team: Ashleigh Baxter, Louise Galvin, Audrey O’Flynn, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs used: Stacey Flood, Anna McGann, Brittany Hogan. Not used: Hannah Tyrrell, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird.

Ireland 27 Kenya 12, Sevens Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 3, Eve Higgins 2; Con: Lucy Mulhall

Team: Ashleigh Baxter, Louise Galvin, Audrey O’Flynn, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs used: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Hannah Tyrrell. Not used: Stacey Flood, Anna McGann, Brittany Hogan.

New Zealand 24 Ireland 17, Sevens Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hannah Tyrrell, Brittany Hogan, Eve Higgins; Con: Lucy Mulhall

Team: Ashleigh Baxter, Louise Galvin, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Hannah Tyrrell, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs used: Stacey Flood, Brittany Hogan, Anna McGann, Audrey O’Flynn. Not used: Aoife Doyle.

Day 1 Round-Up – Murphy Crowe And Higgins Shine As Ireland Women Reach Dubai’s Last-Eight

Friday, November 30 –

Cup Quarter-Final: Canada 24 Ireland 7, Sevens Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Louise Galvin; Con: Lucy Mulhall

Team: Ashleigh Baxter, Louise Galvin, Audrey O’Flynn, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs used: Stacey Flood, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird. Not used: Hannah Tyrrell, Anna McGann, Brittany Hogan.

5th-8th Place Play-Off: England 22 Ireland 17, Sevens Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hannah Tyrrell, Lucy Mulhall, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe; Con: Lucy Mulhall

Team: Ashleigh Baxter, Louise Galvin, Deirbhile Nic A Bhaird, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Hannah Tyrrell, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs used: Audrey O’Flynn, Aoife Doyle, Anna McGann, Brittany Hogan. Not used: Stacey Flood.

7th-8th Place Play-Off: France 17 Ireland 5, Sevens Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird

Team: Ashleigh Baxter, Audrey O’Flynn, Brittany Hogan, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Aoife Doyle, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

Subs used: Hannah Tyrrell, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Anna McGann.


USA (Denver), Infinity Park, Glendale, October 20-21 – 6th Place/10 Points
DUBAI, Sevens Stadium, Dubai, November 29-30 – 8th Place/6 Points
AUSTRALIA (Sydney), Spotless Stadium, Sydney, February 1-3
JAPAN (Kitakyushu), Mikuni World Stadium, Kitakyushu, April 20-21
CANADA (Langford), Westhills Stadium, Vancouver Island, May 11-12
FRANCE (Paris), Stade Jean-Bouin, Paris, May 31-June 3

For more information on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, click here.