Olympic dream dead as Ireland 7s forced to settle for bronze medal in Dublin
After defeat to Russia, Ireland women dusted themselves off to beat Kazakhstan in the third-place play-off.
Daire Walsh reports from UCD
THE IRELAND WOMEN’S Sevens Olympic dreams came to an end at UCD today, after they fell to a nine-point defeat against an impressive Russia in the Championship semi-final of the Women’s Global Sevens Qualification Tournament.
Anthony Eddy’s side had secured their place in the last-four with triumphs over Trinidad & Tobago, Portugal, China and Tunisia, but ultimately had to settle for a third-place finish after beating Kazakhstan in this evening’s bronze medal match.
Ireland had placed the Russians under significant pressure in the early stages of the action, but it was their European counterparts who eventually broke the deadlock four minutes in.
The industrious Iulia Guzeva dotted down to the right of the posts, and even though Daria Lushina was short from the subsequent conversion, they had developed a five-point advantage.
Yet, the hosts displayed plenty of resilience, and the Russia defence was breached for the very first time in the competition when Aoife Doyle finished off an enterprising move to the right of the posts for an unconverted score.
This effort from the Shannon star was warmly welcomed by the enthusiastic home support, but when a breakaway try from Ekaterina Kazakova was supplemented by a Lushina conversion in first-half stoppage-time, Ireland found themselves staring into a 5-12 deficit at the break.
Indeed, Ireland were left with a mountain to climb in the early stages of the second period, as Elena Zdrokova claimed Russia’s third try of the proceedings.
The 12th-minute sin-binning of Baizat Khamidova did provide the Irish with a numerical supremacy in the closing stages, though, and after the ball was spread wide left, Alison Miller dived over to register her seventh try of the tournament.
A wayward conversion attempt from Mulhall meant that Ireland required two tries before the end of the game, however, and in spite of their best endeavours, it is Russia who progress to the Championship decider along with Spain.
A third-placed finish for Ireland could still provide them with a place on next season’s World Sevens Series.
Tries: Aoife Doyle, Alison Miller.
Tries: Iulia Guzeva, Ekaterina Kazakova, Elena Zdrokova.
Conversions: Daria Lushina (2).
IRELAND: Audrey O’Flynn, Megan Williams, Ashleigh Baxter, Stacey Flood, Amee Leigh Murphy-Crowe, Aoife Doyle, Lucy Mulhall (Captain).
Replacements: Niamh Briggs, Nicole Cronin, Kim Flood, Louise Galvin, Alison Miller.
RUSSIA: Daria Bobkova, Baizat Khamidova, Kristina Seredina, Daria Lushina, Iulia Guzeva, Ekaterina Kazakova, Mariia Perestiak.
Replacements: Anna Minislamova, Oxana Korobchuk, Marina Petrova (Captain), Maria Shemchuk, Elena Zdrokova.
Referee: Sara Cox (England).