A last-gasp Megan Burns try ensured Ireland Women’s Sevens concluded their New Zealand Sevens campaign on a winning note as they clinched 11th place with a hard-fought 26-19 victory over Brazil at the FMG Stadium Waikato.
With the sides locked at 19-19 on the final hooter, 19-year-old Burns proved to be the match-winner for Ireland as she broke through the Brazilian defensive line to hand Stan McDowell‘s side two ranking points to add to their HSBC Women’s World Sevens Series tally.
It was a positive end to the week for Ireland, who had concluded the Pool stages with a narrow loss to Spain earlier on Sunday morning despite enjoying periods of sustained possession, and they can now head into next weekend’s fifth leg in Sydney buoyed by an improved performance and result.
Facing Brazil in the 11th-place Play-off for the second consecutive tournament, Ireland found themselves behind on two occasions in the first half despite Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe‘s trademark breakaway score, but a strong second half display yielded tries for captain Lucy Mulhall, Hannah Tyrrell and Burns.
In soaring heat in Hamilton, McDowell’s charges found another gear in the second period and were far more clinical in attack to see off a resilient Brazilian outfit, whose scores came courtesy of Isadora Cerullo and a Bianca Silva brace.
“In these back-to-back tournaments, it’s important to build some winning momentum going from one week to the other,” Mulhall told IrishRugby.ie afterwards. “It was nice to just get a win and we can build on that going into Sydney.
The message is to not accept any less going forward. We actually performed pretty well against Canada but in the other games, we didn’t hold the ball enough. The big thing for us against Brazil was not just hold possession but to actually do something with it.
“It can be quite difficult going home after a tournament knowing you might have six weeks to right some wrongs in the next tournament but we’ve got a quick turnaround now for Sydney. We’ll get our bodies right but also our minds, focusing on what we need to improve on.”
Ireland travel to Australia on Monday afternoon in preparation for the Sydney Sevens, which gets underway on Saturday, February 1.