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Three Wins Out Of Three For Ireland U-18 Women In Prague

Three Wins Out Of Three For Ireland U-18 Women In Prague

Three Wins Out Of Three For Ireland U-18 Women In Prague

Robyn O'Connor makes a break during the Ireland Under-18 Women's Sevens team's pool victory over Belgium in Prague ©Martin Flousek/www.rugbyunion.cz

The Ireland Under-18 Women’s Sevens team (sponsored by PwC) put together three well-earned pool wins on the opening day of the Rugby Europe U-18 Sevens Championship in Prague.

Katie Fitzhenry’s young side defeated Ukraine (27-5) and Scotland (28-12) to top their opening pool of the tournament, before beginning the second group phase with a 26-10 triumph over Belgium.

Tuam/Oughterard’s Hannah Clarke contributed five tries, including a fantastic haul of four in the Ukraine game, while Tullow’s Katie Corrigan touched down three times, including a brace against the Belgians.

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Ireland will return to the Rugby Klub Petrovice pitch for tomorrow morning’s Pool F decider against hosts Czechia (10.44am local time/9.44am Irish time), before the final matches to determine the top three finishers and the other rankings.

Greystones starlet Eva Sterritt, who captained her country for the first time, said afterwards: “To be honest, it was quite overwhelming in that it’s a new experience for everybody here, but in an amazing way. Really grateful for the opportunity to play at this level.

“We’re a little bit disappointed with our performance today. Lots of good moments, lots to improve on. I’m so proud of my team. Three-from-three wins, I can’t complain.”

Ireland fell behind to an early try in their opening clash, Ukraine taking advantage of the initial territory and an inviting scrum position to send Viktoriia Shepel over in the left corner.

Nerves were evident from both teams before Ireland clicked into gear approaching half-time. Clarke jinked away from two defenders and outpaced a third to score from outside the Irish 10-metre line.

Attacking from a central penalty, the Irish passes were beginning to stick and Tara O’Neill’s well-timed offload out of a tackle sent Sterritt storming over out wide to make it 10-5 at the break.

Caitriona Finn made an impact off the bench, almost wriggling through to score. In the 10th minute, it was Finn’s carry out to the right which played in Clarke for her second try, with Éabha Nic Dhonnacha running a clever decoy line.

Nic Dhonnacha’s turnover penalty set the wheels in motion for Clarke to be released for her hat-trick score, converted neatly by Finn. Ireland were now 22-5 to the good with less than two minutes remaining.

Sterritt and replacements Amy O’Mahony and Molly Boote landed some big tackles as Ukraine struggled to make headway, and when the ball went loose out of a ruck, Sterritt pounced to send Clarke over in the corner to wrap up the scoring.

In an ideal start to the Scotland encounter, Finn’s clever dummy and run downfield set up the supporting Boote to jink in under the posts inside the opening minute.

Out-half Finn converted and went close to scoring the second try, having brushed off a defender, but the in-form Clarke showed a clean pair of heels, beating the cover on the outside to go in behind the posts.

Scotland lost their captain Sophie Langford to the sin bin, but bounced back with a converted try from Alexandra Stewart who sniped down the blindside of a ruck.

The Scots were on the cusp of a second score when Clarke produced a try-saving tackle. Nic Dhonnacha snapped up turnover ball and Finn fed Amy Larn who took off from her own 22 and stayed clear of the chasing Hannah Speer to score.

Leading 21-7 at the interval, Ireland absorbed more pressure with Boote foiling a dangerous Scottish break. The gap was reduced to nine points following a well-finished try from Hannah Walker in the 12th minute.

However, Fitzhenry’s youngsters conjured a classy match-winning effort, O’Neill carrying hard before Kate Flannery attacked off a ruck and released fellow replacement Corrigan to charge clear and score from halfway.

Belgium proved a tough nut to crack in the later session, the deadlock being broken in the third minute when Ellen Boylan sidestepped into space and accelerated clear from just inside the Irish half.

Flannery, who provided the assist from an initial turnover, missed the conversion and Belgium were level at five points apiece after a strong finish from captain Lana van Den.

Nonetheless, Ireland replied quickly when Robyn O’Connor’s leg-pumping carry teed up Corrigan to break a tackle and avoid a second one on a 40-metre run-in.

Flannery’s conversion from straight in front split the sides at half-time, with Belgium squeezing in a late score in the left corner from Noëmie Hubert.

Ireland held Belgium at bay early on the resumption, despite having Finn yellow carded for what was deemed to be a high tackle.

O’Connor’s rip in the tackle allowed her to lift the pressure on her team with a brilliant break. With Belgium scrambling back, Corrigan, who had been part of that double tackle right on the Irish line, bagged her brace via a Nic Dhonnacha pass.

Nic Dhonnacha made it a four-try victory in the end, slipping past a defender just outside the Belgian 22 after a powerful initial burst by Finn. The try scorer converted for a 16-point winning margin.

You can follow the tournament and watch the day two action on the Rugby Europe website here.

IRELAND UNDER-18 WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2022 Rugby Europe U-18 Women’s Sevens Championship, Prague, Czech Republic, July 23-24, 2022):

Molly Boote (Connemara RFC/Connacht) WNTS
Ellen Boylan (Carrick-on-Suir RFC/Munster)
Hannah Clarke (Tuam/Oughterard RFC/Connacht) WNTS
Katie Corrigan (Tullow RFC/Leinster)
Caitriona Finn (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster) WNTS
Kate Flannery (Fethard RFC/Munster) WNTS
Éabha Nic Dhonnacha (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht) WNTS
Amy Larn (Athy RFC/Leinster)
Robyn O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC/Leinster)
Amy O’Mahony (Greystones RFC/Leinster)
Tara O’Neill (Cooke RFC/Ulster)
Eva Sterritt (Greystones RFC/Leinster) (capt) WNTS

WNTS = member of Women’s National Talent Squad

2022 Rugby Europe U-18 Women’s Sevens Championship, Prague – Ireland Fixtures/Results:

Saturday, July 23 –

POOL C:

IRELAND 27 UKRAINE 5, Rugby Klub Petrovice – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hannah Clarke 4, Eva Sterritt; Con: Caitriona Finn
Ukraine: Try: Viktoriia Shepel
HT: Ireland 10 Ukraine 5

Team: Tara O’Neill, Eva Sterritt (capt), Ellen Boylan, Robyn O’Connor, Kate Flannery, Éabha Nic Dhonnacha, Hannah Clarke.

Subs used: Caitriona Finn, Amy O’Mahony. Katie Corrigan, Amy Larn, Molly Boote.

IRELAND 28 SCOTLAND 12, Rugby Klub Petrovice – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Molly Boote, Hannah Clarke, Amy Larn, Katie Corrigan; Cons: Caitriona Finn 3, Kate Flannery
Scotland: Tries: Alexandra Stewart; Con: Ceitidh Ainsworth
HT: Ireland 21 Scotland 7

Team: Éabha Nic Dhonnacha, Eva Sterritt (capt), Amy O’Mahony, Amy Larn, Caitriona Finn, Molly Boote, Hannah Clarke.

Subs used: Ellen Boylan, Katie Corrigan, Kate Flannery, Tara O’Neill, Robyn O’Connor.

POOL F:

IRELAND 26 BELGIUM 10, Rugby Klub Petrovice – Watch Replay
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Ellen Boylan, Katie Corrigan 2, Éabha Nic Dhonnacha; Cons: Kate Flannery, Éabha Nic Dhonnacha, Caitriona Finn
Belgium: Tries: Lana van Den, Noëmie Hubert
HT: Ireland 12 Belgium 10

Team: Tara O’Neill, Amy O’Mahony, Ellen Boylan, Robyn O’Connor, Kate Flannery, Katie Corrigan, Molly Boote.

Subs used: Caitriona Finn, Éabha Nic Dhonnacha, Amy Larn.

Sunday, July 24 –

POOL F:

IRELAND v CZECHIA, Rugby Klub Petrovice, 10.44am local time/9.44am Irish time