Ireland march on at Sydney Sevens

World Rugby press release

Ireland’s impressive run continued at the HSBC Sydney Sevens 2019 on Saturday as they reached their first-ever HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Cup semi-final following a 22-7 defeat of Spain at Spotless Stadium.

The Irish, who topped a pool for the first time on day one, will now face defending champions Australia in the semi-finals on Sunday after the hosts maintained their perfect record over France on the series with a 21-17 win.

The other Cup semi-final pits series leaders New Zealand, who are bidding for a sixth series title in a row, against Glendale runners-up USA.

New Zealand ran out 17-7 winners over Canada in a scrappy opening quarter-final, before Cheta Emba’s last-gasp try saw USA beat Russia 7-5, co-captain Nicole Heavirland’s conversion proving the difference in the tight affair.

The first Cup quarter-final was a repeat of the Dubai final in round two and the outcome would be the same with New Zealand running out 17-7 winners over Canada to take their run of victories on the series to 34 – and 47 in global competitions. Only three points separated the teams at half-time after tries from Ruby Tui and captain Sarah Hirini either side of Ghislaine Landry’s score for Canada. Theresa Fitzpatrick scored the only try of the second half as the Black Ferns Sevens showed their defensive prowess to keep Canada at bay to reach the last four for the seventh series event in a row.

Russia had beaten Canada on day one and looked set for a North American double after Baizat Khamidova scored the opener in the second quarter-final against USA. They should have doubled their lead as half-time approached but after a series of pop passes they knocked on a metre from the line. The score remained at 5-0 until the final minute when Jordan Gray-Matyas powered past three Russian players to send Emba over under the posts, giving her captain Heavirland a straightforward conversion for the victory and a repeat of the final at the opening round in Glendale last October.

The third quarter-final pitted together two teams who had just two last four appearances between them, both by Spain. It was Ireland, though, who made the best start in the damp conditions, Eve Higgins (pictured) starting and finishing a move for the first try. They lost Anna McGann to the sin-bin but on the stroke of half-time captain Lucy Mulhall added a penalty – the first of the 2019 series – for a 10-0 lead. Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe dotted down twice in the second half and although Lide Erbina grabbed a late consolation try for Spain, it was Ireland celebrating at the final whistle.

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