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Ireland Women Begin Sydney Run With Back-To-Back Wins

Ireland Women Begin Sydney Run With Back-To-Back Wins

Ireland Women Begin Sydney Run With Back-To-Back Wins

Wexford woman Natasja Behan opened her try account for the Ireland Sevens team against Brazil in Sydney ©INPHO/Zach Franzen

Natasja Behan scored her first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series try as the Ireland Women (sponsored by TritonLake) kicked off the Sydney 7s with wins over Spain and Brazil.

Aiden McNulty’s side came through a bruising opening battle with Spain, winning 14-12 thanks to Emily Lane’s late converted try and a big defensive play from Claire Boles.

They then confirmed a top-two finish in Pool C with a 26-12 victory over Brazil, although captain Lucy Mulhall admitted afterwards that they ‘have to tidy up on their defence and hold onto possession – that’s a big one for us’.

Ireland’s record try scorer Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe sat out the day one action, watching on as Béibhinn Parsons bagged two tries to take her to 16 for the season, bringing her level with Murphy Crowe.

Mulhall and her team-mates will return to the Allianz Stadium pitch tomorrow for the Pool C decider with hosts Australia at 1.56pm local time/2.56am Irish time.

Defences were on top during the opening minutes of the Spain game, with Ireland’s best moments coming when Parsons led a counter ruck for a turnover, and Mulhall also impressed at the breakdown to earn a penalty.

Amaia Erbina intercepted a pass from Anna McGann, while Mulhall forced a Spanish knock-on before she used the resulting scrum possession to release Parsons to devastating effect.

Collecting a pass just outside the Irish 22, the Ballinasloe youngster was able to burn past Paula Requena on the outside for a brilliantly-taken try, converted by Mulhall.

Erbina quickly hit back for Spain, but the chasing Kathy Baker was able to keep her out wide so the difficult conversion was missed. That left Ireland 7-5 ahead at half-time.

Megan Burns and Behan were brought on at the start of the second half, but Parsons ran out of room as Ireland failed to take advantage of Erbina’s sin-binning for a deliberate knock-on. Indeed, they fell behind in the 10th minute.

Parsons’ attempts to keep a high Mulhall pass in play backfired when Claudia Peña Hidalgo pounced on the ball, feeding Maria Garcia whose clever footwork and acceleration took her clear to score from 80 metres out.

Peña Hidalgo’s conversion gave Ireland a 12-7 deficit to overcome, and errors in possession from Parsons and replacement Boles made for a nervy spell inside the Irish half.

However, it was Lane who stepped up as the match winner, sniping clear from a ruck just inside halfway to crash over despite Maria Cantabrana Gil’s committed chase.

It was a classy score from the young scrum half, the all-important extras supplied by Mulhall, but Ireland needed a big clear-out from Boles to force a clinching penalty with the clock in the red.

Luiza Campos and Parsons traded turnover penalties early on during the second round clash, but Brazil were struggling to get out of their own half such was the effectiveness of Ireland’s smothering defence.

Off a midfield scrum in the fourth minute, Mulhall broke the deadlock with a classy run which took her in between two defenders and rounding in behind the posts.

The returning Stacey Flood came up with the goods at the breakdown, keeping the pressure on Brazil before the break, and Eve Higgins burst through a gap to score. Mulhall’s second successful conversion made it 14-0.

Wicklow starlet Vicky Elmes Kinlan ran well in the build-up to Ireland’s third try, with Parsons applying the finishing touches. She broke a tackle from Marina Fioravanti and plunged over in the left corner despite Rafaela Zanellato’s last-ditch challenge.

Speedster Thalia Costa pulled back a try for the Brazilians, before direct running from Higgins, Kate Farrell McCabe and Burns took Ireland back past halfway.

A pass from Burns went loose but Behan collected it on the bounce, just ahead of Costa, and superbly surged away from three more defenders, evading a last tackle from Isadora Lopes de Souza to dive in under the posts.

After Mulhall’s right boot had made it 26-7, Brazil gained a late consolation score when Thalita Costa’s impressive offload sent fellow replacement Andressa Alves through to complete the scoring.

You can watch all the World Series action live on the World Rugby Sevens website, while there will be updates across Irish Rugby social channels and reports here on IrishRugby.ie.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC Sydney Sevens, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Australia, January 27-29, 2023):

Kathy Baker (Blackrock College RFC)
Natasja Behan (Blackrock College RFC)
Megan Burns (Blackrock College RFC)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC)
Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC)
Erin King (Old Belvedere RFC)
Vicky Elmes Kinlan (Wicklow RFC)
Emily Lane (Blackrock College RFC)
Kate Farrell McCabe (Suttonians RFC)
Anna McGann (Railway Union RFC)
Lucy Mulhall (Wicklow RFC) (capt)
Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College RFC)

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Schedule – HSBC Sydney Sevens:

Friday, January 27 –


IRELAND 14 SPAIN 12, Allianz Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Béibhinn Parsons, Emily Lane; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2
Spain: Tries: Amaia Erbina, Maria Garcia; Con: Claudia Peña Hidalgo
HT: Ireland 7 Spain 5

Team: Stacey Flood, Anna McGann, Kathy Baker, Emily Lane, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Béibhinn Parsons.

Subs used: Megan Burns, Natasja Behan, Claire Boles, Vicky Elmes Kinlan, Kate Farrell McCabe.

IRELAND 26 BRAZIL 12, Allianz Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Lucy Mulhall, Eve Higgins, Béibhinn Parsons, Natasja Behan; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3
Brazil: Tries: Thalia Costa, Andressa Alves; Con: Luiza Campos
HT: Ireland 14 Brazil 0

Team: Stacey Flood, Kathy Baker, Vicky Elmes Kinlan, Emily Lane, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Eve Higgins, Béibhinn Parsons.

Subs used: Natasja Behan, Kate Farrell McCabe, Claire Boles, Anna McGann, Megan Burns.

Saturday, January 28 –


AUSTRALIA v IRELAND, Allianz Stadium, 1.56pm local time/2.56am Irish time


Sunday, January 29 –