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Parsons And Flood Hit The Ground Running For Ireland Women

Parsons And Flood Hit The Ground Running For Ireland Women

Ballinasloe native Béibhinn Parsons breaks towards the try-line during Ireland's second round showdown with Australia, the World Series leaders ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

Béibhinn Parsons and Stacey Flood scored two tries each as the Ireland Women made an encouraging start to the inaugural Malaga leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Ireland overcame hosts Spain 21-5 in their Pool A opener before running Australia close in the second round. The 17-12 defeat leaves the girls in green second in the table.

Their hopes of reaching the Cup quarter-finals rest on tomorrow morning’s match against invitational team Belgium, who lost to both Australia (40-5) and Spain (26-19).

The Aiden McNulty-coached squad picked up their second victory of the season against the Spanish, following up on their 31-14 play-off success from Dubai back in November.

Parsons quickly made her mark, swooping on an Emily Lane pass that went off a Spanish hand and tearing through a gap to score from 60 metres out. Captain Lucy Mulhall converted the second-minute try.

Ireland exerted further pressure with half breaks from Lane and Megan Burns, before Flood capitalised on an Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe turnover to touch down via a big hand-off on Iera Echebarria.

Spain were well marshalled by the Irish defence, Murphy Crowe winning a turnover penalty before a collective counter-ruck saw another decision goes Ireland’s way. It was 14-0 at half-time.

The fresh legs of Eve Higgins widened the margin to 21 points, again Spain coughing up turnover ball to Lane. A snappy break and offload from Mulhall then sent Higgins darting in behind the posts.

The only blemish on an encouraging first Irish performance was a late consolation try run in by Olivia Fresneda, who finished off a hard-earned team effort wide on the left.

Mulhall and her team-mates returned to the pitch for the evening session, taking on the number one-ranked Australians with plenty of vocal backing from the main stand.

Murphy Crowe, coming on a neat switch, and Burns both threatened out wide before Flood barged over in the left corner from a close-in ruck. Mulhall missed the difficult conversion.

Australia drew level before the interval, Madison Ashby crossing as the Irish defence was overrun, but Ireland were back in front within a minute of the restart.

Lane scrambled well to win back possession, quick ball was fed to Murphy Crowe before Flood worked it back to the opposite wing, her long skip pass releasing Parsons for another brilliant scamper to the line.

Mulhall converted for a 12-5 lead, only for an error to hand Australia back possession and they used it in clinical fashion as Charlotte Caslick and Ashby combined to create the latter’s second try.

The World Series leaders, who did the double in Dubai, lifted the tempo again from a quick tap and the pace of replacement Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea took her over to the right of the posts.

There were still three minutes for Ireland to close the 17-12 gap, and while Burns managed to deny Demi Hayes a try with a great tackle, the girls in green were unable to break back into scoring range.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC Spain Sevens, Estadio Ciudad de Malaga, Malaga, January 2022):

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

HSBC WORLD RUGBY SEVENS SERIES – SPAIN SEVENS FIXTURES/RESULTS:

Friday, January 21 –

POOL A:

SPAIN 5 IRELAND 21, Estadio Ciudad de Malaga
Scorers: Spain: Try: Olivia Fresneda
Ireland: Tries: Béibhinn Parsons, Stacey Flood, Eve Higgins; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3
HT: Spain 0 Ireland 14

Team: Stacey Flood, Brittany Hogan, Béibhinn Parsons, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Emily Lane, Megan Burns.

Subs used: Anna McGann, Eve Higgins, Erin King. Not used: Katie Heffernan, Kate Farrell McCabe.

AUSTRALIA 17 IRELAND 12, Estadio Ciudad de Malaga
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Madison Ashby 2, Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea; Con: Tia Hinds
Ireland: Tries: Stacey Flood, Béibhinn Parsons; Con: Lucy Mulhall
HT: Australia 5 Ireland 5

Team: Stacey Flood, Brittany Hogan, Béibhinn Parsons, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Emily Lane, Megan Burns.

Subs used: Eve Higgins, Erin King. Not used: Katie Heffernan, Anna McGann, Kate Farrell McCabe.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Spain Sevens Fixtures/Results

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Spain Sevens Pool Tables

Saturday, January 22 –

POOL A:

IRELAND v BELGIUM, Estadio Ciudad de Malaga, 10.28am local time/9.28am Irish time