The Irish team celebrate a try against Kazakhstan. Christopher Pike

Ireland women earn 109-point win in first-ever WXV match

Eve Higgins and Béibhinn Parsons impressed with four tries each.

Ireland 109

Kazakhstan 0

Dave Mervyn reports from Dubai

THE IRELAND WOMEN racked up a record 109-0 win over Kazakhstan in their first ever WXV match, with Eve Higgins and Mastercard player-of-the-match Béibhinn Parsons delighting the Dubai crowd with four tries each.

This was Ireland’s biggest ever score and try haul (17) in a 15s Test match, male or female, and comfortably beat the Women’s previous record victory of 73-3 against Scotland when they clinched the 2015 Six Nations title.

The flurry of points, with ten different try scorers and Dannah O’Brien and Nicole Fowley both slotting over six conversions, saw Scott Bemand’s coaching tenure get off to an impressive start in the desert heat.

The strength of the opposition must be taken into account, with Kazakhstan struggling to fire a shot and suffering two second half yellow cards, but Ireland continued to dominate with Eimear Corri, Megan Collis and Sarah Delaney all coming on to make their debuts.

18-year-old hooker Delaney crossed for the penultimate try from a barnstorming maul, which originated on Kazakhstan’s 22-metre line, and she was embraced by her new team-mates in the biggest celebration of the night.

From Christy Haney’s opening try after just 103 seconds, Bemand’s side had control of the game with a superior scrum, speed and strength in their carries, and good direction from their half-backs, including some well-placed tactical kicks from O’Brien.

Returning Sevens star Higgins was especially influential, winning turnovers and pocketing two classy first half tries, while Méabh Deely, Linda Djougang, Parsons, Molly Scuffil-McCabe and Grace Moore also crossed to tee up a 50-0 half-time lead.

Kazakhstan were 78 points in arrears by the hour mark, with their captain Karina Sazontova and Ann Chebotar’s sin-binning being ruthlessly punished. Higgins, who shifted out to the wing, bookended the closing half with two more tries.

Aoife Dalton bagged a brace of her own, Parsons’ finishing skills saw touch down three times in 14 minutes, and Brittany Hogan and newcomer Delaney were rewarded with their first 15s international tries.

Wearing their white and navy alternate kit, Ireland quickly got down to business against their first round opponents. Scrum half Scuffil-McCabe collected a clearance kick to set up a barrage of early attacking phases.

Prop Haney soon broke Kundyzay Baktybayeva’s tackle to crash in under the posts, giving O’Brien a simple first conversion. The Nomads forced the issue for a short spell, but a couple of turnovers won by Higgins – the second one earning a penalty – launched the white shirts forward again.

The half-backs and co-captain Sam Monaghan worked the ball wide for Ballinasloe native Deely to finish expertly in the corner past two defenders.

Higgins was next over the whitewash in the 16th minute, using her pace to break outside Darya Simakova and then a nifty step off her right took her in between Gulim Bakytbek and Tatyana Dadajanova to score to the right of the posts. O’Brien’s missed conversion left it 17-0.

Dalton and Neve Jones were also showing their ability to steal ball at the breakdown, and following the first water break, a big hit by co-captain Edel McMahon led to a penalty in prime position. A few phases later, O’Brien’s inviting pass put Djougang powering over for the bonus point score.

Ireland’s handling was letting them down at times, with a loose Dalton pass spoiling an overlap out wide. A try-seeking Scuffil-McCabe was also pulled back for a forward pass from full-back Deely.

However, Parsons soon gobbled up a poor clearance kick, ahead of Liliya Kibisheva on the edge of Kazakhstan’s 22, and surged over for her ninth international try in the 15s code. O’Brien added the extras from the left.

Higgins doubled her tally soon after, a Kazakhstan error allowing the Irish pack to press from a lineout maul. O’Brien took play infield and did well to offload to Higgins whose deft sidestepping took her away from three defenders for a smartly-finished seven-pointer.

Scuffil-McCabe sniped through from her own quick tap for try number seven, and flanker Moore, who had a busy first half, cut inside Yeva Bekker and fended off full-back Bakytbek for a fine 40-metre run-in in the final minute. O’Brien’s well-struck conversion racked up the half-century of points.

Leah Tarpey and Corri came on at the start of the second half, the latter making an early carry and stealing a lineout. Sazontova caught McMahon with a shoulder to the head in her attempt to clear her away from a ruck, leading to a yellow card for the Kazakhstan skipper.

Number 8 Hogan used a penalty to make a big midfield charge, and Parsons and Deely combined to send Higgins over from the right wing. Another crisp strike by O’Brien took her tally to 12 points before her departure.

Tarpey was held up after Hogan’s direct running had carved open the defence again but she unfortunately delayed her pass. Nonetheless, following a tapped penalty, the newly-introduced Aoibheann Reilly and Fowley fed Tarpey who put Dalton over for a deserved try.

Connacht out-half Fowley showed her place-kicking prowess with some pinpoint conversions from out wide. Dorothy Wall was making more inroads in attack too, with Parsons used a quickly-taken penalty to scramble over near the left corner flag.

Bemand’s charges ended the third quarter with two more tries, profiting from Chebotar’s yellow for a high tackle. Wall and Parsons kept up the high pace of an attack, and Reilly provided the assist for Ulster ace Hogan to thunder over from close range.

Parsons registered her hat-trick before the last water break, released for the line by Higgins whose footwork and movement outfoxed the cover defence again.

Young centre Dalton completed her brace in the 67th minute, showing impressive balance and using a couple of strong fends to score on the back of Parsons’ midfield break and timely offload.

Ireland’s lightning-quick left winger then blazed through a gap to score from 35 metres out, with Fowley’s reliable right boot making it 97-0. Delaney pushed them through the 100-point barrier, plunging over from a snaking lineout drive.

Fellow new cap Collis (21) made her presence felt in the scrum and maul, and there was still time for the ever-threatening Higgins to raid over from Ireland’s 10-metre line for her fourth of the night.

She fielded a rushed Kazakhstan kick, which was forced by Corri and Maeve Óg O’Leary’s thunderous double tackle, and could not be stopped. Fowley split the posts one last time, rounding up her own tally to a dozen points.

IRELAND: Méabh Deely (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht); Natasja Behan (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC/Leinster), Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Béibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht); Dannah O’Brien (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union RFC/Leinster); Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury), Christy Haney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC/Munster), Sam Monaghan (Gloucester-Hartpury/IQ Rugby) (co-capt), Grace Moore (Saracens/IQ Rugby), Edel McMahon (Exeter Chiefs) (co-capt), Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster).

Replacements: Leah Tarpey (Railway Union RFC/Leinster) for Behan, Eimear Corri (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster) for Monaghan (both half-time), Nicole Fowley (Galwegians RFC/Connacht) for O’Brien, Aoibheann Reilly (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht) for Scuffil-McCabe (both 50 mins), Sadhbh McGrath (MU Barnhall/Cooke RFC/Ulster) for Djougang (52), Maeve Óg O’Leary (Blackrock College RFC/Munster) for Moore, Megan Collis (Railway Union RFC/Leinster) for Haney (both 63), Sarah Delaney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster) for Jones (69).

KAZAKHSTAN: Gulim Bakytbek; Liliya Kibisheva, Lyudmila Ivanova, Darya Tkachyova, Yeva Bekker; Kundyzay Baktybayeva, Daiana Kazibekova; Natalya Kamendrovskaya, Moldir Askhat, Tatyana Dadajanova, Ann Chebotar, Darya Simakova, Tatyana Kruchinkina, Karina Sazontova (capt), Symbat Zhamankulova.

Replacements: Yelena Yurova, Balzhan Akhbayeva, Karina Tankisheva, Yuliya Oleinikova, Daria Kuznetsova, Svetlana Malezhina, Alyona Melnikova, Kuralay Turalykova.

Referee: Doriane Domenjo (France)

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