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Ireland Women Lay Down Early Marker On Perth Debut

Ireland Women Lay Down Early Marker On Perth Debut

Ireland Women Lay Down Early Marker On Perth Debut

Stacey Flood takes on Jazmin Felix-Hotham during the Ireland Women's second round showdown with New Zealand at the HSBC SVNS tournament in Perth ©INPHO/Travis Hayto

The Ireland Women (sponsored by TritonLake) resumed their HSBC SVNS season today with two impressive performances against higher-ranked opponents in sun-drenched Perth.

Megan Burns ran in a 12th-minute match-winning try as Ireland triumphed 19-14 to end a six-match losing run against the USA, which stretched back to the Dubai 7s in December 2022.

Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe touched down in both of their opening Pool C games, handing them an early lead against New Zealand who went on to win 21-14. Replacement Aoibheann Reilly’s late try gave Ireland a deserved losing bonus point.

It is the first time they have scored two tries against the Black Ferns Sevens since the 2019 Cup quarter-final in Glendale, and leaves them level on four points with the USA in the table, ahead of tomorrow morning’s clash with bottom side Japan.

The Japanese team lost to Pool C leaders New Zealand (29-5) and the USA (33-5), and Allan Temple-Jones’ charges will be hoping to match or better those results as they look to qualify for their third successive Cup quarter-final of 2023/24.

You can watch all of the HSBC SVNS Series action for free on RugbyPass TV, while there is coverage of Ireland’s progress in Perth across the new @Ireland7s social media channels and in our Ireland Sevens hub: irishrugby.ie/ireland7s.

This is the first time that the Women’s Series has staged an Australian leg outside of Sydney, with all five previous HSBC SVNS tournaments held there between 2017 and 2023. Ireland captain Lucy Mulhall and record try scorer Murphy Crowe played in all five.

The Ireland Women returned Down Under aiming to back up their strong form from past visits, which included fourth place finishes at the Sydney Sevens in both 2019 and 2023.

Kristi Kirshe marked her return to the USA team with a well-taken second-minute try, set up by an inviting offload from Ilona Maher just inside the Irish half. Kayla Canett converted from straight in front for an early 7-0 lead.

However, Ireland scored from their first real bit of possession in very humid conditions. A neat switch move saw Burns release Murphy Crowe to speed clear from just outside the Irish 22. Her ninth try of the season was comfortably converted by Mulhall.

Good defensive pressure from the girls in green forced the USA into errors. As the first half came to a close, scrum ball was fed to the left where Murphy Crowe’s clever footwork and injection of pace took her away from Canett and Naya Tapper to go in behind the posts.

Mulhall’s conversion gave her side a 14-7 half-time lead, but the sixth-ranked Eagles seized the initiative on the resumption, gradually wearing down the Irish defence for replacement Jaz Gray to break free and level matters in the 11th minute.

Mulhall got good distance from a penalty kick, though, and with the newly-introduced Erin King linking well with Emily Lane off the lineout, Burns’ angled run saw her take advantage of a slip by Alex Sedrick to romp over from outside the American 10-metre line.

Mulhall narrowly missed the conversion, yet Ireland kept their noses in front with King chasing down the restart kick to pressurise Maher into knocking on. The US did have one final chance, but King’s impact at the breakdown led to a result-clinching penalty.

Giving her reaction afterwards, try scorer Burns said: “We knew going into it that it’s going to be a tough day. Every team we play is going to be a tough game. We haven’t beaten the USA in a while so that was a massive one.

“We had only thought about that first game and going out and winning every moment, so I think it’s a team win and we’re really happy with that. We came out a few days early to try and acclimatise, and hopefully it’s paying off.”

A quick pass from Mulhall created an early overlap for Ireland against New Zealand, and Murphy Crowe and Burns broke from deep. The latter’s burst of pace took her away from Michaela Blyde before the supporting Murphy Crowe stepped inside the chasing Blyde and darted in behind the posts.

The Black Ferns drew level at seven-all in swift fashion, Murphy Crowe halting Blyde’s progress down the left wing before the ball was worked out to the right where Stacey Waaka cut in to find a gap and speed through towards the posts.

Despite Burns powering through a couple of tackles, and scrum half Lane getting a chance to stretch her legs, New Zealand’s territorial dominance translated into a lead score from Jorja Miller who took advantage of a missed tackle to make it 14-7 at the interval.

The Timaru teenager evaded the clutches of both King and Murphy Crowe to complete her brace early in the second half. Suddenly, New Zealand, the winners of the last three Sydney Sevens titles, had opened up a 14-point advantage.

Stacey Flood was prominent as three penalties drew Ireland back up within reach of the New Zealand 22, before Risi Pouri-Lane won the breakdown battle, and a free-flowing attack from the third seeds ended with Blyde knocking on.

Reilly and Vicky Elmes Kinlan brought impact off the Irish bench, with the latter gaining good ground, as did Béibhinn Parsons. Reilly smartly sniped away from a last-minute scrum, arrowing through a gap for her second ever HSBC SVNS try.

Mulhall clipped over the conversion, just to the right of the posts, but Blyde plucked down the final restart for New Zealand, allowing Portia Woodman-Wickliffe to kick the ball dead and confirm a final scoreline of 21-14.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC SVNS Series – Perth 7s, HBF Park, Perth, Friday, January 26-Sunday, January 28, 2024):

Megan Burns (Blackrock College RFC)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC)
Alanna Fitzpatrick (Portarlington RFC/Blackrock College RFC)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC)
Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC)
Erin King (Old Belvedere RFC)
Lucinda Kinghan (Railway Union 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)
Aoibheann Reilly (Blackrock College RFC)
Vikki Wall (Ireland Sevens)


Friday, January 26 –


Scorers: USA: Tries: Kristie Kirshe, Jaz Gray; Cons: Kayla Canett 2
Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe 2, Megan Burns; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2
HT: USA 7 Ireland 14

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

Replacements used: Erin King. Not used: Kate Farrell McCabe, Aoibheann Reilly, Lucinda Kinghan, Vicky Elmes Kinlan.

Scorers: New Zealand: Tries: Stacey Waaka, Jorja Miller 2; Cons: Tyla King 3
Ireland: Tries: Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Aoibheann Reilly; Cons: Lucy Mulhall 2
HT: New Zealand 14 Ireland 7

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

Replacements used: Erin King, Aoibheann Reilly, Vicky Elmes Kinlan, Lucinda Kinghan, Kate Farrell McCabe.

Saturday, January 27 –


IRELAND v JAPAN, HBF Park, 10.44am local time/2.44am Irish time


Sunday, January 28 –