Thursday 25 May 2017

Ladies qualify despite falling to late Japan rally in finals

Ashleigh Baxter, Ireland, races clear of Zenay Jordaan, left, and Mathrin Simmers, South Africa
Ashleigh Baxter, Ireland, races clear of Zenay Jordaan, left, and Mathrin Simmers, South Africa
Lucy Mulhall, Ireland, is tackled by Marithy Pienaar, South Africa
Lucy Mulhall, Ireland, is tackled by Mathrin Simmers, South Africa

Daire Walsh

Anthony Eddy's Ireland side secured their place in the 2015/16 Women's Sevens Series at the end of an eventful two-day qualifier tournament at the UCD Bowl.

Thanks to their semi-final win over South Africa, Ireland were guaranteed a spot in the series before their decider with Japan.

Two tries from Amee-Leigh Crowe gave the Green Army a 12-0 lead with four minutes remaining, but a late rally, including a last-gasp penalty from Yume Okuroda, helped Japan secure the title.

Ireland got their Pool C campaign off to a perfect start on Saturday with wins over Mexico (64-0) and Hong Kong (50-0).

Portlaoise's Alison Miller scored four tries in the latter encounter, and even though a 17-5 defeat to South Africa in their third game meant that they had to settle for second place, they progressed to the quarter-final showdown with China yesterday.

A brace of tries from Alison Miller and Claire Keohane helped Ireland to return to winning ways, and with South Africa defeating Hong Kong 21-5, they were offered a shot at redemption in the first Cup semi-final.

They set their stall with tries from Katie Fitzhenry and Mulhall, and although Zenay Jordaan opened the Springboks' account, Miller crossed to give Ireland a 19-7 cushion.

Another try for Veroeshka Grain upped the pressure, before another seven-pointer by Mulhall provided breathing space.

This was Ireland's fifth win in six games, and with the top-two sides qualifying for the World Series, they had effectively achieved their objective.

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