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Strong Finish Seals Fifth Place For Ireland Women

Strong Finish Seals Fifth Place For Ireland Women

Eve Higgins takes on Canada's Breanne Nicholas during the 5th place final in Malaga ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

Impressive wins over England (38-7) and Canada (26-5) drove the Ireland Women to their highest finish so far of this season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Malaga.

In Pics: Ireland Women Make History With Quartet Of Wins

Their improved performances saw them finish fifth overall and become the first Ireland Women’s team to register four victories in a single World Series tournament.

With strong scoring contributions from Béibhinn Parsons (6 tries), Amee Leigh-Murphy Crowe and Eve Higgins (5 each), it was Ireland’s best finish since coming fourth in Sydney in February 2019.

Parsons and Murphy Crowe bagged braces against England, before the Tipperary speedster starred in the 5th place final against Canada, running in a hat-trick of tries to close out the weekend in style.

Defeating England at the start of day three was a significant result, given Ireland had won only one of the sides’ 11 previous World Series encounters.

Buoyed by their win over Great Britain in Dubai last month, Aiden McNulty’s charges were the early aggressors and their direct running and offloading saw them beat a path to the try-line.

Captain Lucy Mulhall, Emily Lane and Stacey Flood linked neatly to take them into the English 22, and with possession retained and Higgins also carrying hard, Mulhall sent Parsons in for a seven-pointer under the posts.

Flood was tackled short of the line but released the ball and swiftly picked it up again for try number two. Another very good line from Higgins and a neat switch between Brittany Hogan and Parsons set up the opportunity.

Past the half-time hooter, Hogan gathered Flood’s long arcing pass at the second attempt and Higgins, looping around her in England’s 22, was released to score and make it 17-0 at the break.

The sides swapped early second half tries, England co-captain Megan Jones inspiring her team-mates with a terrific finish from her own kick through.

However, Murphy Crowe hit back brilliantly, set free by Higgins’ gathering of the restart and quick pass as she blazed through for a 60-metre run-in. Mulhall converted for a 24-7 scoreline.

The Ireland skipper followed up with a pinpoint restart which Higgins gobbled up, and Mulhall soon popped up in midfield, attacking out to the left where her long pass sent Parsons scampering over to make it 31-7.

The Ballinasloe youngster used a textbook fend to score to the left of the posts and, shortly afterwards, Mulhall’s kick through off a scrum was perfectly weighted for Murphy Crowe to dot down just before the end line.

That completed Ireland’s first win over England in a World Series game since Langford in 2017, the high work-rate maintained right to the finish with young replacement Erin King winning two late turnovers.

Ireland were unsurprisingly unchanged for their Malaga finale against Canada, who seized the initiative with a first-minute breakaway try from Olivia Apps, set up a lovely offload from Paige Farries.

A Hogan turnover penalty got the Irish attack firing, Lane sniping around the side of a ruck and Higgins was up on her shoulder to storm over just to the left of the posts. Mulhall converted for 7-5.

With little over two minutes before half-time, Murphy Crowe forced a turnover penalty in the Canadian 22 and used a quick tap to nip over and give Ireland a nine-point cushion.

Ireland’s record World Series try scorer ended the first half in the sin bin, for a deliberate knock-on, but the defence was rock solid in her absence.

The tenacious Mulhall won a big turnover and further defensive pressure, on the resumption, forced a knock-on from Karen Paquin. Canada then lost Alysha Corrigan to the bin.

A fired-up Murphy Crowe returned to the pitch, taking two defenders with her as she powered over the line for her second try. Mulhall converted from a tight angle, extending the lead to 21-5.

The result was sealed by Murphy Crowe’s 12th-minute score, as she sped over from 30 metres out. Flood had attacked the space to the side of a ruck, drawing in Pam Buisa before releasing her winger.

The back-to-back wins on the final day saw Ireland pick up 12 ranking points, moving them up to sixth in the World Series standings. Round 4 takes the teams to Seville next weekend.

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 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.

Day 1 Round-Up: Parsons And Flood Hit The Ground Running For Ireland Women

Saturday, January 22 –

POOL A:

IRELAND 29 BELGIUM 12, Estadio Ciudad de Malaga
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Eve Higgins 2, Katie Heffernan, Emily Lane, Béibhinn Parsons; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2
Belgium: Tries: Margaux Lalli, Manon Nairac; Con: Margaux Stevins
HT: Ireland 17 Belgium 7

Team: Stacey Flood, Katie Heffernan, Anna McGann, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Emily Lane.

Subs used: Kate Farrell McCabe, Erin King, Claire Boles, Béibhinn Parsons. Not used: Megan Burns.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Spain Sevens Results

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Spain Sevens Pool Tables

CUP QUARTER-FINAL:

FRANCE 33 IRELAND 5, Estadio Ciudad de Malaga
Scorers: France: Tries: Camille Grassineau, Yolaine Yengo, Valentine Lothoz, Seraphine Okemba, Jade Ulutule; Cons: Jade Ulutule 4
Ireland: Try: Béibhinn Parsons
HT: France 19 Ireland 5

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

Subs used: Eve Higgins, Kate Farrell McCabe, Katie Heffernan. Not used: Claire Boles, Erin King.

Day 2 Round-Up: Ireland Women To Face England In 5th-8th Place Play-Offs

Sunday, January 23 –

5TH PLACE SEMI-FINAL:

ENGLAND 7 IRELAND 38, Estadio Ciudad de Malaga
Scorers: England: Try: Megan Jones; Con: Megan Jones
Ireland: Tries: Béibhinn Parsons 2, Stacey Flood, Eve Higgins, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 4
HT: England 0 Ireland 17

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

Subs used: Katie Heffernan, Megan Burns, Kate Farrell McCabe, Erin King, Claire Boles.

5TH PLACE FINAL:

IRELAND 26 CANADA 5, Estadio Ciudad de Malaga
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Eve Higgins, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 3; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3
Canada: Try: Olivia Apps
HT: Ireland 14 Canada 5

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

Subs used: Kate Farrell McCabe, Erin King, Katie Heffernan, Claire Boles.