Monday 19 March 2018

Ireland claim a last-eight place

Ireland’s Claire Molloy sprints clear to score a try against Hong Kong yesterday
Ireland’s Claire Molloy sprints clear to score a try against Hong Kong yesterday

Daire Walsh

At the end of an eventful day at the UCD Bowl yesterday, Ireland secured their place in the quarter-final of the Women's Sevens Series Qualifier Tournament.

Anthony Eddy's charges were on the receiving end of a 17-5 defeat in their Pool C encounter with South Africa, but thanks to earlier comprehensive victories over Mexico and Hong Kong, they will now face China in the last-eight fixture today.

With Wicklow native Lucy Mulhall leading a supremely-organised squad, the Irish issued a serious statement of intent in their opening clash against Mexico. Courtesy of tries from Amee-Leigh Crowe (two), Katie Fitzhenry, Jenny Murphy and Louise Galvin, they developed a 31-0 interval lead, and following further-five pointers by Murphy, Mulhall, Audrey O'Flynn, Alison Miller and Hannah Tyrrell, they registered a 64-0 success.

Miller has been a star performer for Ireland at 15s in recent years, and she subsequently helped herself to four tries during the host nation's 50-0 demolition of Hong Kong - a game that also saw Mulhall, Murphy and Claire Molloy addtheir names to the scoresheet.

Pau Yan Poon managed a try in Hong Kong's game with South Africa, but valuable contributions from Mathrin Simmers, Veroeshka Grain, Marithy Pienaar (two tries) and Lorinda Brown ensured that South Africa had 28 points (33-5) to spare, and they also comfortably defeated Mexico on a scoreline of 38-0.

This set-up an intriguing showdown with Ireland, which would determine the winner of the Pool. South Africa did break the deadlock with a well-worked Phumeza Gadu try, but Ireland replied upon the resumption with a Fitzhenry five-pointer.

This raised hopes that Ireland could record their third consecutive victory in the tournament, but following tries by Fundiswa Plaatjie and Grain, it was the South Africans who reached the Pool C summit.

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