It was a great start for the Ireland Women’s 7s team as they will face Spain in tomorrow’s Sydney 7s Quarter-Finals as they went undefeated on Day 1 at the Spotless Stadium in Sydney’s Olympic Park.
Ireland drew their opening match 7-7 against Russia, in a game that neither side managed to take hold of.
Both teams looked shaky during an error-strewn first-half, and the sides went in at half time with the score at 0-0.
Eve Higgins took the game to Russia and crossed over the line, with a Lucy Mulhall conversion making it 7-0, but Russia hit back almost immediately to even things up.
Neither side managed to claim a winning score, and the game finished in a 7-7 draw.
Ireland’s next opponents were Canada, who were silver medalists at the last World Series leg in Dubai, and had started their morning with a 36-12 win over Fiji.
Canada opened the game with two converted tries in quick succession to make it 14-0, but Ireland hit back through a great individual try from Hannah Tyrrell who turned on the gas to beat two defenders in her own half and then sprint over the line to score.
Ireland followed up with an excellent team try, which saw involvements from Deirbhile Nic A Bhaird, Anna McGann, Tyrrell and Mulhall before Louise Galvin dotted down to leave it 14-10 at the break.
It looked like Ireland would take the lead from a Nic A Bhaird try, but the pass from Mulhall was deemed to be forward. Ireland applied pressure to the resulting scrum and forced Canada to kick to touch from inside their dead-ball area.
From the resulting lineout Ireland ran a text-book training ground move to spread the ball wide and put Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe over in the corner for what would be the winning score, as Ireland held out to claim their second ever win over Canada, with the game finishing 15-14.
Ireland faced Fiji in their final game of Day 1, as the rain began to fall in Sydney. The flying Fijians had defeated Russia 21-12 in their second game of the day and a second win would see them secure a place in the Quarter-Finals.
It wasn’t the start Ireland had been aiming for, as the experienced Ana Maria Roqica claimed Mulhall’s kick-off and put her foot down to score within 15 seconds.
Ireland regrouped and Nic A Bhaird used some excellent footwork to get outside her defender and put Murphy-Crowe into space, and the Tipperary speedster crossed the line for her 60th World Series try to make it 5-5.
Anna McGann looked to match the physical Fijians and made several strong carries into contact, this gave Ireland momentum going forward and from a lineout move, the ball went through the hands to 17-year-old Series debutant Béibhinn Parsons, who expertly touched down for her first international try.
Ireland headed into the break leading 10-5, and it was their turn to score from the restart, as Murphy-Crowe used footwork and pace to score her second try of the game.
Ireland contended well with the slippery ball and Murphy-Crowe looked to have put Ireland clear as she went over for her hat-trick and made it 24-5.
The Fijians refused to back down however, and again gained a score from the restart to make it 22-12.
Ireland pressed hard in the closing minutes, but a loose pass from Galvin in the opposition’s 22 allowed Rusila Nagasau gather and sprint to score, making it a very close contest in the closing minutes.
Indiscipline from Fiji, which saw referee Madeline Putz show a red card for a high tackle, helped Ireland keep possession and they held on for a 22-19 win to keep their undefeated record for the day and top their pool (a first for this Irish side).
Ireland take on Spain at 2.34am (Irish time) in tomorrow’s Quarter-Final.
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