A 26-12 victory over Fiji propelled the Irish Women’s Sevens side into the semi-final at the HSBC World Series event in Sydney. An Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe double plus efforts from Eve Higgins and Lucy Mulhall combined to see off the Fijiana relatively comfortably, setting up a last four date with New Zealand in the early hours of Sunday morning (4.44am Irish time).
The quarter-final continued a prolific weekend for Higgins who also crossed the whitewash in pool stage clashes with Brazil and Australia. She sits atop the try-scoring charts for Ireland with three, Mulhall and Murphy Crowe behind her on two alongside Beibhinn Parsons.
Ireland lost to the hosts in a 43-7 drubbing, but wins over the Brazilians (26-12) and Spain (14-12) saw them qualify for the quarter-finals as Pool C runners-up.
The Aiden McNulty-coached outfit came into this weekend in Australia fourth in the overall standings, occupying the final automatic qualification spot for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Reaching the semi-final stage in Sydney puts them in an excellent position to hold onto that slot at the very worst ahead of the next event in Vancouver in March.
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On the men’s side of the draw, Ireland find themselves in the fifth place play-off with Great Britain after a 26-12 quarter-final defeat to South Africa. Like their female counterparts, Ireland came second in their pool after an opening defeat to Samoa was followed up by consecutive 26-0 wins over Spain and USA.
Ireland were always behind in their quarter-final defeat thanks to an early double from Christie Grobelaar. Despite responses from Andrew Smith and Aaron O’Sullivan, Shilton van Wyk extended the lead while Jaiden Baron’s score that put the game to bed had many scrambling for the law book.
Baron appeared to kick the ball with a foot in touch before racing through to score, but the try stood since the ball itself was in the air but not over the line.
Ireland’s playoff vs Great Britain is at 3.28 am (Irish time) on Sunday.