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Ireland Women Face Battle To Reach Hong Kong’s Last-Eight

Ireland Women Face Battle To Reach Hong Kong’s Last-Eight

Ireland Women Face Battle To Reach Hong Kong’s Last-Eight

Kathy Baker is pictured in possession during Ireland's second round encounter with Australia at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

The Ireland Women (sponsored by TritonLake) have a battle on their hands to reach the Cup quarter-finals at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

Back-to-back defeats to Fiji (17-7) and second seeds Australia (19-12) leave Ireland third in Pool B, but they can still reach the last-eight if they beat Brazil, by a decent margin preferably, and other results go their way.

Stacey Flood, Kathy Baker and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe were try scorers on the opening day as Allan Temple-Jones’ first tournament as head coach got off to a testing start in wet conditions.

The girls in green will regroup for tomorrow morning’s crunch clash with Brazil at 9.32am local time/2.32am Irish time, determined to stay on course for Olympic qualification via the World Series.

The Lucy Mulhall-led team are currently sitting in fifth position in the overall standings, but with Olympic hosts France occupying fourth place, Ireland would secure their place at the 2024 Games as things stand.

However, if Temple-Jones’ side fail to make the Cup quarter-finals in Hong Kong, sixth-placed Fiji, who trail Ireland by 10 points, would close the gap, and Great Britain – a further four points back – could also take advantage.

The Women’s Series’ long-awaited debut in Hong Kong produced some thrilling day one action, Ireland going close to unlocking the Fiji defence out wide early on but Emily Lane’s pass to Béibhinn Parsons did not go to hand.

A fine break from Baker, sandwiched by penalties against Fiji, saw Ireland press again for the opening try. They worked some numbers off a sixth-minute scrum, Flood rounding out to the right and dummying to go through a gap and touch down.

With a sweetly-struck conversion from captain Mulhall, her side led 7-0 at half-time but that lead was erased just seconds after the restart as the momentum suddenly swung behind Fiji.

Raijieli Daveua brilliantly fended off Parsons’ initial tackle and had the pace to go in under the posts from distance. Ana Maria Naimasi’s extras squared things up before the Fijians followed up with a quick-fire second try.

Talented 18-year-old Meredani Qoro shrugged off a tackle from Parsons to make it 12-7. Baker got back to prevent another Fiji breakout, but an uncharacteristic fumble by Eve Higgins handed possession back.

Fiji were clinical when sweeping back out to the right, though, as Ivamere Nabura’s terrifically-timed offload off the ground released replacement Younis Bese for the try-line with just under 90 seconds remaining.

Ireland did build some phases with Mulhall and the newly-introduced Erin King both carrying well, but they were unable to capitalise on Lavena Cavuru’s sin-binning for kicking the ball away after an Irish penalty had been awarded.

Australia stole a march on Ireland in their closely-fought match, Lane felt the ball was still in an Irish ruck yet referee Lauren Jenner waved play on as Faith Nathan pinched possession. She went on to score the opening try via a Charlotte Caslick assist.

Great work by Higgins, straight from the restart, ignited the best out of the Irish attack. They twice threatened on the left, off a midfield scrum, before Baker barged over from five metres out, with TMO confirmation of the grounding.

Nonetheless, that Mulhall-converted, fourth-minute try was cancelled out by seven-pointers from Teagan Levi and Caslick as missed tackles cost Ireland again, leaving them 19-7 down at the interval.

An early Higgins turnover lit the touchpaper for a strong second half performance from the girls in green. Australia began to leak successive penalties and from a close-in scrum, the ball was worked wide for Murphy Crowe to finish smartly past Nathan.

The final few minutes were marred by messy scrums, with Ireland unable to breach the defence despite the best efforts of Mulhall, Baker and Higgins in particular. The result saw Australia qualify for the Olympics.

You can watch both Ireland Sevens teams in action across the weekend on the World Rugby Sevens Series website and app.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong Stadium, Friday, March 31-Sunday, April 2, 2023):

Kathy Baker (Blackrock College RFC)
Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC)
Megan Burns (Blackrock College RFC)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC)
Katie Heffernan (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)
Lucy Mulhall (Wicklow RFC) (capt)
Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College RFC)

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Schedule – Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens:

Friday, March 31 –


FIJI 17 IRELAND 7, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Fiji: Tries: Raijieli Daveua, Meredani Qoro, Younis Bese; Con: Ana Maria Naimasi
Ireland: Try: Stacey Flood; Con: Lucy Mulhall
HT: Fiji 0 Ireland 7

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

Subs used: Erin King, Megan Burns. Not used: Claire Boles, Kate Farrell McCabe, Vicky Elmes Kinlan.

AUSTRALIA 19 IRELAND 12, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Australia: Tries: Faith Nathan, Teagan Levi, Charlotte Caslick; Cons: Teagan Levi 2
Ireland: Tries: Kathy Baker, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe; Con: Lucy Mulhall
HT: Australia 19 Ireland 7

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

Subs used: Erin King. Not used: Megan Burns, Claire Boles, Kate Farrell McCabe, Vicky Elmes Kinlan.

Saturday, April 1 –


IRELAND v BRAZIL, Hong Kong Stadium, kick-off 9.32am local time/2.32am Irish time


Sunday, April 2 –