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Murphy Crowe’s Late Brace Seals Quarter-Final Spot For Ireland Women

Murphy Crowe’s Late Brace Seals Quarter-Final Spot For Ireland Women

Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe's finishing skills were crucial as Ireland came from behind to beat Brazil in Toulouse ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

Two late tries from Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe saw the Ireland Women squeeze past Brazil as they brought the opening day of the HSBC France Sevens in Toulouse to a thrilling conclusion.

Brazil had twice edged their way in front, but Stacey Flood dangled a kick out to the right for Murphy Crowe to touch down and register a very hard-fought 17-14 victory.

It was back-to-back wins for Aiden McNulty’s charges at the Stade Ernest Wallon, as earlier on a 21-point contribution from classy captain Lucy Mulhall had inspired a 31-12 triumph over England.

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Those two results leave Ireland level on six points with hosts France at the top of Pool C. The two sides, both guaranteed to reach the last-eight, will decide the placings when they meet tomorrow morning at 10.20am Irish time.

Under the floodlights, Ireland had enjoyed a high-tempo start against Brazil, with Mulhall and Erin King both gaining ground and Flood impressing in the air and with ball in hand.

However, the Irish passing was slightly off and the Brazilians, having won a penalty at the breakdown, used a quick tap to send Bianca Silva striding clear, past Eve Higgins, for the opening try.

A big tackle from Mulhall on Luiza Campos forced a knock-on, and a nice move off the resulting scrum saw Higgins slice through and use a hand-off to score with Mulhall’s kick making it seven points apiece.

A foot in touch narrowly denied Murphy Crowe a fine try on the restart, as Flood gave a glimpse of her kicking skills that would ultimately decide this game right at the death.

Suddenly, Brazil stung Ireland again with a terrific score from inside their own half. Thalia Costa created the space to unleash the long-striding Gabriela Lima and she had the gas to go the distance, with Raquel Kochhann converting for a 14-7 lead.

Time was not on Ireland’s side but they knuckled down and with some improved interplay, Mulhall and Kate Farrell McCabe worked the ball wide for Murphy Crowe to break a tackle from Lima and cut the gap to two points.

Mulhall, who hit the near post with the difficult conversion, was central to Ireland snatching a last-gasp win. They won back her high, hanging restart, she added further momentum by running a penalty and also dived on a breaking ball a few phases later.

It was vital possession in the Brazilian 22 with only seconds left, and Flood used it intelligently, sending out a well-weighted kick which Murphy Crowe dotted down to keep her side on the winning trail.

Determined to follow up on their podium finishes in both Seville and Langford, Ireland had kicked off the final leg of the 2022 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with a strong five-try performance against England.

After falling behind to an immediate Ellie Boatman score, the girls in green hit back to lead 26-12 at the break with Mulhall (2), Murphy Crowe and Higgins all crossing.

Ireland conceded inside the opening seconds as Jade Shekells managed to pinch possession from Emily Lane and her offload bounced up for Boatman to finish strongly near the right corner.

Mulhall replied straight from the restart, hoovering up the breaking ball, stepping past a defender and accelerating clear on a superb 80-metre burst. Her conversion edged Ireland in front.

Murphy Crowe quickly added her try, a deep restart from Mulhall causing trouble for England and Flood gobbled it up. Megan Burns fed the ball wide for the Tipperary speedster to finish with a neat stutter step.

It was a Murphy Crowe turnover that sparked Ireland’s third try in the fifth minute. Burns and Flood tested the defence with offloads, the latter’s one bouncing up invitingly for Mulhall to raid over and make it 19-5.

Emma Uren answered back with a barnstorming try from the restart, with Murphy Crowe unable to bring her down, but Ireland made sure to finish the first half with another seven-pointer.

Murphy Crowe won a turnover penalty, Mulhall provided the zip with two quick taps in succession and Lane spun away from Isla Norman-Bell to send Higgins in under the posts from close range.

The second half was a scrappy affair, with both benches emptied in humid conditions and a series of knock-ons preventing either team from getting into try-scoring range.

Ireland’s accuracy returned during the final couple of minutes as eager replacements Farrell McCabe and Anna McGann made good ground up into the English 22.

The excellent Mulhall fittingly sealed the result with a weaving run off a scrum, using a burst of pace and a clever dummy to reach out and complete her hat-trick of tries.

Giving her reaction to that opening victory, Mulhall said: “England are always a really tough side and we knew the first half was going to be so important, to try and wear them down.

“To cope with that pressure, scoring as they did straight off the first kick-off. That put us under the pump. I think it’s a really good test of character and I’m really proud of the defensive effort more than anything.

“We’re just really excited to be doing this jersey proud, trying to put Sevens on the map in Ireland as well.

“We’ve worked hard as a team. We’ve loads of family over in the stand so we just want to give them loads to smile about.”

The Ireland Women sit fifth in the overall World Series standings and can achieve a first ever top three finish for the season.

Murphy Crowe has taken her handsome haul for the 2002 campaign to 35 tries and is on course to receive the World Series’ coveted Top Try Scorer award, which she won in 2019. Her closest challenger is Australia’s Charlotte Caslick (28 tries).

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC France Sevens, Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse, May 20-22, 2022):

Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC)
Megan Burns (Blackrock College RFC)
Vicky Elmes Kinlan (Wicklow RFC)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC)
Katie Heffernan (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 (Wicklow RFC) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC)

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

Friday, May 20 –

POOL C:

IRELAND 31 ENGLAND 12, Stade Ernest Wallon
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Lucy Mulhall 3, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eve Higgins; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3
England: Tries: Ellie Boatman, Emma Uren; Con: Isla Norman-Bell
HT: Ireland 26 England 12

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

Subs used: Katie Heffernan, Vicky Elmes Kinlan, Anna McGann, Brittany Hogan, Kate Farrell McCabe.

IRELAND 17 BRAZIL 14, Stade Ernest Wallon
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Eve Higgins, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2; Con: Lucy Mulhall
Brazil: Tries: Bianca Silva, Gabriela Lima; Cons: Raquel Kochhann 2
HT: Ireland 7 Brazil 7

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

Subs used: Kate Farrell McCabe, Anna McGann, Megan Burns, Katie Heffernan. Not used: Claire Boles.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – France Sevens Fixtures/Results

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – France Sevens Pool Tables

Saturday, May 21 –

POOL C:

FRANCE v IRELAND, Stade Ernest Wallon, 11.20am local time/10.20am Irish time

Sunday, May 22 –

Play-Offs

All matches live on the World Rugby stream here.