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Ireland Women Left To Rue Late Defeats In Dubai

Ireland Women Left To Rue Late Defeats In Dubai

Ireland Women Left To Rue Late Defeats In Dubai

Ireland captain Lucy Mulhall scores a try during their pool opener against Fiji in Dubai ©Mike Lee/KLC Fotos/World Rugby

The Ireland Women suffered two last-gasp defeats to Fiji and the USA on a testing opening day of the second HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in Dubai.

The positives were that Ireland were able to put it up to high-ranked opposition – with Béibhinn Parsons scoring three of their five tries – but results again eluded them in the desert heat.

Although captain Lucy Mulhall and her team-mates carried more threat with ball in hand, some well-constructed approach work went unrewarded with a series of chances squandered in the 22.

They will aim to be more clinical in the red zone when day two gets underway with their final pool match against Great Britain tomorrow morning (kick-off 9am local time/5am Irish time).

Under the guidance of Anthony Eddy, the IRFU Director of Sevens and Women’s Rugby who has the coaching reins here, and incoming head coach Aiden McNulty, Ireland sit fourth of the five teams in Pool B.

Today’s early morning session saw them lose 24-19 to Fiji in agonising fashion. They went behind early on when Stacey Flood’s pass was intercepted and a couple of offloads put Alowesi Nakoci in the clear.

Following an Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe knock-on in attack, Fiji built again with some impressive offloading and Sesenieli Donu crossed out wide in the fourth minute.

Flood put boot to ball twice, linking up with Murphy Crowe firstly, as Ireland started to find gaps out wide. From a close-in scrum, Mulhall crossed on the left to close the gap to 12-5.

Half-time replacement Parsons flew through a gap to score from 40 metres out, following a neat assist from Mulhall off a lineout on the opposite right wing.

Mulhall converted as she did in the 13th minute, adding the extras to Kathy Baker’s try which came in response to Reapi Ulunisau’s surging breakaway score.

Murphy Crowe’s determined run did a lot of the damage in the build-up, sucking Fijian defenders in and good hands out to the left put Baker over unopposed.

From a tight angle, Mulhall nailed the conversion to draw the sides level at 19-all. But Fiji snatched the victory, breaking again from deep with the fresh legs of replacement Ana Roqica sealing it.

On the main pitch for round two, Ireland made a decent start against France but were ruthlessly punished when Jade Ulutule raced clear for a try after an Eve Higgins knock-on.

Murphy Crowe appeared destined to strike back with a terrific run from inside her own half, only for Anne-Cecile Ciofani to haul her down 10 metres out.

Higgins also went agonisingly close and the TMO rubberstamped a second French try, despite Murphy Crowe’s best efforts to hold up Shannon Izar. Ireland trailed 10-0 at the break.

The girls in green were unable to get out of their own half during the closing seven minutes, with an early Ciofani try effectively deciding the result.

There were some nice touches from Erin King along with Parsons and Kate Farrell McCabe, who were both sprung from the bench. French replacement Joanna Grisez weighed in with a late brace of tries.

With the stands filling up more, there was a great atmosphere for Ireland’s encounter with the USA. The Americans’ power runners quickly made their mark, Ilona Maher crossing in the first minute.

Naya Tapper chased back to deny Murphy Crowe a try, but Ireland made sure from the resulting scrum, Mulhall snatching back possession before Higgins released Parsons for the left corner.

Despite Tapper restoring the American lead, Parsons roared back with a terrific 80-metre run-in, breaking a tackle and scooting clear via an offload from Flood. Mulhall’s conversion made it 12-all.

A stalemate ensued in the second half, Murphy Crowe and Aoibheann Reilly tracking back with try-saving tackles and Reilly’s promising break was foiled by Alev Kelter.

As bodies tired, the USA had just that bit more in the tank as they took a tense 19-12 verdict. Maher passed wide for Lote Tausinga to run in a 16th-minute match winner.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (Dubai Sevens, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, December 2021):

Kathy Baker (Blackrock College RFC)
Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC)
Brittany Hogan (Ballynahinch RFC/Old Belvedere RFC)
Erin King (Old Belvedere RFC)
Katie Heffernan (Mullingar RFC/Railway Union RFC)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC)
Aoibheann Reilly (Blackrock College RFC)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum RFC) (capt)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC)
Kate Farrell McCabe (Suttonians RFC)
Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College RFC)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC)
Megan Burns (Blackrock College RFC)


Friday, December 3 –


FIJI 24 IRELAND 19, The Sevens Stadium Pitch 2, Dubai
Scorers: Fiji: Tries: Alowesi Nakoci, Sesenieli Donu, Reapi Ulunisau, Ana Roqica; Cons: Lavenia Cavuru, Reapi Ulunisau
Ireland: Tries: Lucy Mulhall, Béibhinn Parsons, Kathy Baker; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2
HT: Fiji 12 Ireland 5

Team: Eve Higgins, Brittany Hogan, Erin King, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Megan Burns.

Subs used: Katie Heffernan, Claire Boles, Kathy Baker, Béibhinn Parsons, Kate Farrell McCabe.

FRANCE 29 IRELAND 0, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai
Scorers: France: Tries: Jade Ulutule, Shannon Izar, Anne-Cecile Ciofani, Joanna Grisez 2; Cons: Jade Ulutule
Ireland: –
HT: France 10 Ireland 0

Team: Eve Higgins, Brittany Hogan, Erin King, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Megan Burns.

Subs used: Katie Heffernan, Claire Boles, Kate Farrell McCabe, Kathy Baker, Béibhinn Parsons.

USA 19 IRELAND 12, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai
Scorers: USA: Tries: Ilona Maher, Naya Tapper, Lote Tausinga; Cons: Alena Olsen 2
Ireland: Tries: Béibhinn Parsons 2; Con: Lucy Mulhall
HT: USA 12 Ireland 12

Team: Kathy Baker, Eve Higgins, Béibhinn Parsons, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Megan Burns.

Subs used: Brittany Hogan, Erin King, Aoibheann Reilly, Claire Boles, Kate Farrell McCabe.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Dubai Sevens Fixtures/Results

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Dubai Sevens Pool Tables

Saturday, December 4 –


GREAT BRITAIN v IRELAND, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, 9am local time/5am Irish time