THE Irish women's team had a tough opening day at the Emirates Dubai Women's Rugby Sevens tournament yesterday as they lost two and drew one of their three Pool A games.
Ireland, making their first appearance in the event, made an encouraging start after a hard-fought 12-12 draw against USA.
Ashleigh Baxter got Ireland off to a dream start when she touched down after 41 seconds. The US hit back shortly afterwards with a try from Megan Lee Bonny, and Amelia Villines added the conversion to put her side in front.
But Ireland regained the lead just before the break after good work from Alison Miller set up Claire Keohane for a second try. Keohane converted to leave Ireland 12-7 ahead at half-time.
After sustained pressure, the US levelled late on when Rebekah Siebach crossed in the corner. Kelly Griffin had the chance to win the game, but she failed to add the extras and both sides were forced to settle for a draw.
A daunting task awaited Jon Skurr's side in their second pool game as Ireland took on reigning World Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens champions New Zealand.
There wasn't to be a fairytale ending in this encounter as New Zealand stormed to a comfortable 29-0 win. Ireland rounded off their pool with a second defeat to the more experienced Fijian side.
Ireland trailed 26-0 at the break and although Miller did respond with a consolation try, it didn't stop them going down to a 38-5 loss.
Ireland finished bottom of the pool and contest the Bowl competition.