Disappointing results for Mulhall’s Sevens side
THERE was no joy for Lucy Mulhall and her Ireland Women’s Sevens team after a disappointing second day of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series tournament in Dubai last week.
Defeats to eventual runners-ups Canada (24-7), England (22-17) and France (17-5) saw them finish eighth overall in the competition that saw the Crossbridge native and Rathdrum RFC member produce some magic moments.
The latter two matches could have gone either way for Mulhall’s side, with England and France both scoring last-minute tries to deny the Irish.
Nonetheless, it is Ireland’s second top-eight finish of the season and the tournament saw them record their best ever results against Russia (26-0 win) and eventual champions New Zealand (24-17 loss).
Indeed, they were the only team to finish within a converted score of the Black Ferns in Dubai. Brittany Hogan, the latest member of the IRFU Sevens Programme to make her series debut, played four games and scored a try, while fellow 20-year-old Anna McGann also opened her series account and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe notched six tries, just one less than leading scorers Michaela Blyde and Bianca Farella.
The Ireland women picked up eight series points for their efforts over the two days at the Sevens Stadium complex, leaving them seventh overall with 16 points level with England - ahead of the third leg of the World Series in Sydney in early February.
A poor start to their last-eight clash with Canada saw their opponents cross after just 40 seconds and things deteriorated rapidly as the Irish fell 19-0 behind early in the second half
Things started to improve soon after as Ireland came more into the game.
Lucy Mulhall’s clever in-andout run and pass sent Louise Galvin over for a well-worked try, towards the left corner. Mulhall’s crisply-struck conversion closed the gap to 12 points.
Frustratingly for Ireland, a couple of penalties pinned them back close to their own 22, and Canada’s bench wrapped up the result with Charity Williams providing the assist for Pam Buisa’s try out wide in the final minute. Incisive running from Mulhall and Hogan offered the hope of a late consolation try, but Canada won the battle of the breakdown to keep them out.
Another disastrous start saw Ireland fall behind early on in their fifth-eighth place play-off against England.
However, they were much more clinical on the cusp of half-time as tries from Hannah Tyrrell and former Wicklow ladies star Mulhall had Ireland just 12-10 behind.
Nic a Bhaird forced a penalty at ruck time, and from the resulting lineout, Mulhall set up an opportunity for Tyrrell to step off her left, swat a defender away and ground the ball to the left of the posts.
Tyrrell’s footwork caused prob- lems for England again on the restart, the Dubliner also getting a pass away off the ground as Higgins managed to tie in two defenders and release Mulhall who outpaced Helena Rowland to the try-line but was off-target with her conversion to level the match.
Referee Hollie Davidson’s decision to sin bin Tyrrell for throwing the ball away before an English lineout had Ireland under pressure early in the second half. Nonetheless, they managed to hit the front in the 12th minute with a bout of hard-carrying over the gain-line, with Galvin and O’Flynn to the fore, and the latter put Murphy Crowe in under the posts for her sixth try of the tournament.
Mulhall converted to give her side a 17-12 advantage, but she dropped the restart short and England dug out a 22-17 win with pacy replacement Ellie Kildunne taking centre stage. Murphy Crowe was pinged for a high tackle and Brown used the quick tap to send Kildunne sprinting in at the left corner to level the game with two minutes remaining.
Ireland then lost a lineout inside their 10-metre line, England using the possession to attack out to the right where Kildunne managed to slip out of a tackle from Higgins and use her pace to score the decisive try, leaving Eddy’s charges to fight it out for seventh place with France, who were beaten 21-10 by Russia.
Ireland had almost all of the early possession against France but would fall to a 17-5 defeat at the end of a very disappointing day for the Irish.