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Ireland Women Power Into Sydney Semi-Finals

Ireland Women Power Into Sydney Semi-Finals

Ireland Women Power Into Sydney Semi-Finals

Led by Lucy Mulhall, the Ireland Women are through to the HSBC Sydney Sevens semi-finals

The Ireland Women (sponsored by TritonLake) have powered into their third consecutive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series semi-final with a superb 26-12 victory over Fiji in Sydney.

Aiden McNulty’s side were backed by a huge Irish crowd at Allianz Stadium and after safely progressing through their pool with wins over Spain and Brazil, they produced a clinical performance to reach Sunday’s last-four.

Despite falling behind to Fiji during the first half, Ireland’s composure and skill level came to the fore as they hit back through captain Lucy Mulhall and then Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, who had sat out the pool stages.

Leading 12-5 at half-time, the girls in green extended their lead on the restart when Murphy Crowe doubled her tally with a lethal long-range finish. The win was sealed when Eve Higgins crashed over in the 12th minute.

McNulty’s charges will face New Zealand, the title winners in both Cape Town and Hamilton, in tomorrow’s Sydney Sevens semi-final shoot-out (kick-off 3.44pm local time/4.44am Irish time).

Kathy Baker burst through into Fiji’s 22 to give Ireland the early momentum in the Cup quarter-final. Higgins was bundled into touch, though, and the Fijians showed how deadly they can be from deep.

Reapi Ulunisau offloaded brilliantly out of a tackle inside her own 22, releasing Younis Bese to go streaking clear up the right and score despite Murphy Crowe’s determined chase.

Ireland responded impressively to take a 12-5 half-time lead, their first try coming from Mulhall who scampered in behind the posts after Béibhinn Parsons had won a turnover penalty from Stacey Flood’s initial cross-field kick.

Following the skipper’s conversion, Flood won the restart and Fiji’s indiscipline was punished when Mulhall carried up close, Higgins took a quick tap and linked with Flood who sent Murphy Crowe over in the right corner.

The Tipperary native added her second try just barely a minute into the second half. She cut in from the left, a terrific burst of pace taking her past halfway and in between two defenders to push the margin out to 14 points.

Parsons showed her tenacity in defence, hunting down Ivamere Nabura to win a penalty, before Bese denied the newly-introduced Kate Farrell McCabe a certain try with a cracking cover tackle.

Fiji’s lineout malfunctioned five metres out, however, and Higgins gleefully gobbled up possession at the rear to score Ireland’s fourth try from close range. Mulhall tagged on her third conversion.

It was Fiji who finished out the scoring, a late rally producing a fine score for Ana Maria Naimasi who was on the end of a fast-paced breakout. Yet, time was on Ireland’s side and they had done enough to book their semi-final spot.

Earlier in the day, Ireland lost their Pool C showdown with Australia who scored four unanswered second half tries to run out 43-7 winners in front of their home crowd.

Things were a lot tighter in the first half, but breakaway scores from Faith Nathan and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, combined with Charlotte Caslick’s opener from a Madison Ashby offload, had the hosts leading 19-7.

Flood and the impressive Higgins had some good runs, and the latter deservedly got Ireland off the mark in a frantic finish to the first half. Megan Burns weaved up close to the posts before Higgins spun out a tackle to score.

The Mulhall-converted try kept Ireland in the hunt until Maddison Levi and Caslick effectively put Australia out of reach by the 10th minute. Again turnovers proved costly for McNulty’s charges.

Emily Lane, who fought hard to win a penalty at the breakdown, and the hard-carrying Claire Boles gained ground for Ireland, but Australia put together two late tries from the right wing, run in by Teagan Levi and replacement Sariah Paki.

Mulhall and her team-mates are currently fourth in the overall World Series standings as the race to qualify for Paris 2024 intensifies. The top four teams on the World Series automatically book their tickets for the Olympics.

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.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Women Begin Sydney Run With Back-To-Back Wins

Saturday, January 28 –


AUSTRALIA 43 IRELAND 7, Allianz Stadium
Scorers: Australia: Tries: Charlotte Caslick 2, Faith Nathan, Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea, Maddison Levi, Teagan Levi, Sariah Paki; Cons: Sharni Williams 2, Tia Hinds 2
Ireland: Try: Eve Higgins; Con: Lucy Mulhall
HT: Australia 19 Ireland 7

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

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


FIJI 12 IRELAND 26, Allianz Stadium
Scorers: Fiji: Tries: Younis Bese, Ana Maria Naimasi; Con: Ana Maria Naimasi
Ireland: Tries: Lucy Mulhall, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2, Eve Higgins; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 3
HT: Fiji 5 Ireland 12

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

Subs used: Claire Boles, Kate Farrell McCabe, Anna McGann, Vicky Elmes Kinlan, Megan Burns.

Sunday, January 29 –


NEW ZEALAND v IRELAND, Allianz Stadium, 3.44pm local time/4.44am Irish time