Rugby

Captain Mulhall Stars As Ireland Gain Momentum In Sevens Series

The Ireland Women Seven’s team finished 6th in the opening round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Glendale, USA. Ireland were narrowly edged out in the 5th place final, 21-19 to current series holders Australia.

Sevens superstar and Irish captain Lucy Mulhall was in exceptional form as she recorded 17 tackles and 26 carries, amassing a total of 38 points for the series. The Irish captain was at the forefront as Ireland recorded a nine-try victory over Fiji, a record HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series win.

The Girls in Green kicked off the tournament with defeats to both France (21-12) and Canada (24-12). Despite this, a record victory against Fiji saw them progress to the quarter-finals as the best third-place finishers, after a dominant performance against Fiji.

In the opening encounter to France, Ireland fell behind 14-0 after seven minutes. Aoife Doyle, who finished the tournament as Ireland’s top try-scorer, managed to pull one back after Ashleigh Baxter released the powerful runner to sprint home from 40-metres.

France’s Lina Guerin got her second try of the game soon after the restart to pull France 21-7 points clear. Ireland’s scored a consolation try on the hooter as former Dublin GAA footballer and All-Ireland winner, Hannah Tyrrell broke away to score from just outside the French 22.

In the following game against Canada, Ireland once again fell victim to a slow start. Bianca Farella and Juilia Greenshields scored two quick tries for Canada as they raced to a 14-0 lead in 4 minutes. Ireland showed great composure and spirit to fight their way back a Stacey Flood to danced past the Canadian defence and dive over from close range.

Captain fantastic Lucy Mulhall dragged Ireland back into the game with another try to leave the score 14-12 at half-time. Unfortunately for Ireland, marginal calls against them lead to penalties being awarded to Canada. The Canadians were clinical and pulled away in the second half to win the game 24-12.

Subsequently, Ireland’s hopes of reaching the last-eight rested on a must win game against South Sea Islanders, Fiji.

It was a dominant display from Ireland as they swept aside Fiji with a 59-7 victory. Ashleigh Baxter, Ireland’s most-capped Sevens international, bagged two tries in the nine-try demolition of Fiji. Aoife Doyle, Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eve Higgins, Lucy Mulhall, Hannah Tyrell, Katie Heffernan and Stacey Flood were the other try scorers. Ireland showed great inter-play and intensity in the final pool game which proved too much for the Fijian side.

The result saw Ireland progress to the quarter-finals as the best third-place finishers in the pools. Following their victory, Ireland faced New Zealand on Day 2. The Black Ferns proved too strong for Ireland as they ran out 34-7 winners. Despite this defeat, Even Higgins who was a World Series Rookie of the Year nominee last season, scored a fantastic solo try against New Zealand, who ended up as the eventual champions.

The defeat saw Ireland face Russia in the fifth place play-off. Aoife Doye’s try scoring series continued as she raced away clear, to open the scoring for Ireland. Once again, Eve Higgins showed her brilliant balance and quick feet to wriggle passed the Russia defenders to score under the posts. Lucy Mulhall helped Ireland seal victory after her dazzling run saw her beat three defenders before offloading to the supporting Murphy Crowe to put the game to bed.

Finally, Ireland’s final game of the tournament came against series champions Australia. Australia raced into a 14-0 lead, but Ireland regrouped with Aoife Doyle and then Deirbhile Nic A Bhaird crossing over to cut the deficit to two points at half-time. Nic A Bhaird’s powerful break and offload to Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe saw Ireland comeback to take the lead 19-14. On the hooter, Australia snatched fifth place as Samantha Treherne kicked over the winning conversion after Elia Green broke away to level the scores.

Despite the last gasp defeat, sixth place marks serious progress for Ireland. Facing the top four finishers in last season’s series, Ireland secured their highest ranking yet as a core team and placed as the second highest European team.

HerSport Editor

Her Sport is a media platform centred on bringing the latest Irish and international women’s sports news. Her Sport aims to empower women in sport, inspire more female participation, increase opportunity and level the playing field for future generations. Our objective is to create real and tangible change.

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