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Martin Seras Lima/INPHO Eve Higgins scored four tries today.
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Higgins shines as Ireland Women's team advance to quarter-finals of Dubai 7s
Ireland defeated Japan, Spain and Fiji to set up a quarter-final date against USA tomorrow.

EVE HIGGINS SCORED FOUR tries as Ireland Women 7s finished top of Pool C after the opening day of the Dubai 7s.

Aiden McNulty’s side defeated Spain 21-7, Japan 31-24 and third seeds Fiji 24-17 today to reach the quarter finals.

They will now face the United States, runners up in Pool A, in the last eight tomorrow at 5.22am Irish time. If omens mean anything, Ireland defeated USA 17-14 when they last met in May.

This will be Ireland’s fifth successive Cup quarter-final appearance on the World Series.

They didn’t start well against Fiji, Ana Maria Naimasi getting Fiji’s opening try, before Higgins led the Irish response, injecting pace into a third-minute attack off a scrum. She evaded the clutches of Reapi Ulunisau, on the edge of the Fijian 22, and raided in under the posts despite a committed chase from Naimasi.

Captain Lucy Mulhall converted to nudge her side in front at 7-5, and following a ball-dislodging tackle by Higgins, Murphy Crowe had the pace to score following a pass by Flood.

There was still time for Parsons to squeeze in another try past the half-time hooter.

Into the second half, a Murphy Crowe break, combined with a turnover penalty won by Flood, kept Ireland playing in the right areas of the pitch and they were duly rewarded as 17-5 became 24-5.

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Once more it was Higgins who unlocked a Fijian defence that was caught over-chasing. She stepped inside, breaking free from 40 metres out to score behind the posts. Mulhall’s conversion widened the margin to 19 points.

However, when replacement Kathy Baker took out Daveua in the air from the restart, last season’s World Series bronze medallists punished the sin-binning with quick-fire tries from Alowesi Nakoci and Lavena Cavuru, who had both been sprung from the bench.

Crucially, with Baker back on, Fiji miscued their restart and Ireland were able to control possession off a final scrum, allowing Mulhall to kick the ball dead and ensure her team completed a clean sweep of pool victories.

Earlier, Parsons scored either side of half-time during Ireland’s 31-24 triumph over fast-finishing Japan. Murphy Crowe, Higgins and Mulhall also made it over the whitewash before the Japanese put in a late rally that delivered two tries.

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