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Ireland Women Remain On Course Despite Australia Defeat

Ireland Women Remain On Course Despite Australia Defeat

Ireland Women Remain On Course Despite Australia Defeat

Emily Lane passes to Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe during Ireland's second round clash with Australia in Toulouse ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

The Ireland Women (sponsored by TritonLake) ended day one of the HSBC France Sevens in Toulouse with a memorable win over their French hosts and a defeat to second seeds Australia.

A final pool victory over Brazil tomorrow morning (kick-off 10.43am local time/9.43am Irish time) should be enough for a Cup quarter-final place, as Ireland bid to book their ticket to a first ever Olympic Games.

Allan Temple-Jones’ side had bookended the first half against Australia with tries from captain Lucy Mulhall, who was in stellar form in her 50th Sevens international tournament, and Stacey Flood.

However, the Australians showed their class with four unanswered second half tries to win 33-12, keeping themselves at the top of Pool B and staying unbeaten at Stade Ernest Wallon alongside New Zealand, Fiji and Great Britain.

Earlier on, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe ran in a hat-trick of tries as the girls in green signalled their intent with a terrific 27-7 victory over fourth-ranked France.

Ireland currently occupy the fourth and final qualification berth for the 2024 Olympics. Keeping a close eye on Pool C in particular, they know a higher finish than both Fiji and Britain in Toulouse will see them qualify for Paris.

Ireland (64 points), Fiji (62) and Great Britain (60) are the three teams vying to join New Zealand, Australia, the USA and host nation France as the automatic qualifiers for the Olympics.

Following two frustrating eighth place finishes in Vancouver and Hong Kong, Mulhall and her team-mates recaptured some of their best form for their Toulouse opener and hit the front inside two minutes.

Flood got her legs pumping in a strong carry, Eve Higgins then ghosted through a gap and Murphy Crowe used some nifty footwork and a great burst of pace to race away from Séraphine Okemba and score from halfway.

Emily Lane soon pounced on a French knock-on to dart up into the opposition 22. She linked with Higgins who fell short of the try-line but swiftly produced the ball for Mulhall to double Ireland’s lead from close range.

Mulhall’s clever switch move in the sixth minute opened up the space for Megan Burns to tear through from 45 metres out. The skipper topped it off with the conversion from straight in front of the posts.

On the stroke of half-time, the Wicklow native showed her experience when drawing a penalty, tapping it quickly and sucking in two defenders before giving Murphy Crowe a simple finish out wide on the left.

Flood was also to the fore, charging down a Montserrat Amedee kick to start the build-up to that fourth try. With the scoreboard showing 22-0, Higgins won a turnover penalty and the French errors kept coming.

Attacking hard off the scrum, Lane and Mulhall set up Murphy Crowe to sidestep away from Okemba and score in the left corner. Fourth on the World Series’ all-time top scorers list, the Tipperary speedster now has 160 tries.

Okemba weaved clear from her own half to get les Bleues on the board, but Joanna Grisez’s sin-binning – she took out Higgins in the air from the restart – effectively ended their comeback hopes.

Indeed, Ireland could have added to their try tally late on. Kate Farrell McCabe was part of an impactful bench, yet a Burns pass was slightly behind Béibhinn Parsons who could not hold onto it with plenty of space in front of her.

Renewing rivalries with Australia, Ireland took a third-minute lead. After Murphy Crowe had beaten Faith Nathan to collect an inviting Flood kick, Mulhall finished expertly in the corner from Lane’s quick pass from the ruck.

The captain added the extras with aplomb, but Australia responded quickly through the long-striding Maddison Levi, who was set free from deep by her younger sister Teagan. The latter converted for a seven-all scoreline.

As Ireland picked up the pace and profited from Australia’s indiscipline, Lane’s quick tap led to some pressure out wide and Parsons got the ball free out of a tackle for Flood to finish off a close range try with a strong hand-off.

Nonetheless, Ireland’s 12-7 interval advantage was erased within a minute of the restart. Teagan Levi shrugged off Mulhall’s attempted tackle to move her team in front for the first time.

They were able to turn defence into attack when Maddison Levi contributed a second long-range effort in the 10th minute, released by Charlotte Caslick’s turnover. Australia’s bench helped them add a late gloss.

With the Irish defence stretched, captain Caslick crossed in the left corner before pacy replacement Bienne Terita burst clear for a closing 16th-minute score, converted by Dominque du Toit.

You can watch all the action on the World Rugby Sevens Series website and app, while there will be live updates throughout the weekend on the Irish Rugby Twitter and Instagram pages.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC France Sevens, Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse, Friday, May 12-Sunday, May 14, 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)
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 France Sevens:

Friday, May 12 –


FRANCE 7 IRELAND 27, Stade Ernest Wallon
Scorers: France: Try: Séraphine Okemba; Con: Caroline Drouin
Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 3, Lucy Mulhall, Megan Burns; Con: Lucy Mulhall
HT: France 0 Ireland 22

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

Subs used: Erin King, Kathy Baker, Anna McGann, Claire Boles, Kate Farrell McCabe.

AUSTRALIA 33 IRELAND 12, Stade Ernest Wallon
Scorers: Australia: Tries: Maddison Levi 2, Teagan Levi, Charlotte Caslick, Bienne Terita; Cons: Teagan Levi 3, Dominque du Toit
Ireland: Tries: Lucy Mulhall, Stacey Flood; Con: Lucy Mulhall
HT: Australia 7 Ireland 12

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

Subs used: Erin King, Kathy Baker, Claire Boles, Anna McGann, Kate Farrell McCabe.

Saturday, May 13 –


IRELAND v BRAZIL, Stade Ernest Wallon, 10.43am local time/9.43am Irish time


Sunday, May 14 –