Ireland Women strike late to claim draw with Fiji on tough day in Dubai

However, Lucy Mulhall thought she had kicked the winning points before the referee asked for her conversion to be re-taken.

Updated 15.50

IRELAND CLAIMED THEIR best result of the day in the final pool match at the Dubai Sevens, but they left the field disappointed after a controversial end to their 17 – 17 draw with Fiji.

The Pacific islanders had a woman in the sin-bin but held a 17 -12 advantage in the closing minutes, before Aoife Doyle crossed the try-line to level the match late.

Captain Lucy Mulhall made the conversion that she thought would deliver victory. However, the referee ruled the attempt had been taken from the wrong spot and forced the Wicklow woman to re-take the kick.

Mulhall missed the second bite at the cherry and left Ireland with a draw that sends them into a Challenge Trophy semi-final against the USA at 08.14 (Irish time) tomorrow.

Fiji, who finished eighth in last season’s world series, took a commanding 10 – 0 lead in the first-half with two unconverted tries from Miriam Naiobasali before Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe hit back with her third try of the day. Mulhall’s conversion made it 10 – 7 at the break.

Fiji began the second half the brightest too, Tinai adding seven points to her side’s tally that looked to put Ireland out of reach. Anthony Eddy’s side refused to accept defeat however and Nicole Cronin’s score set up a dramatic finish.

Eddy last week said his side had been dealt ‘the toughest group in Dubai’ in this, the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, and it lived up to its billing.

Ireland began their second season in the top level of the sport against New Zealand. The Black Ferns began with fierce intensity and dominated possession as well as the collisions leaving Ireland trailing 17 – 0 at half-time.

Shakira Baker burst onto the field after the break to deepen the deficit between the sides, but Murphy Crowe took advantage of some rare space to manouvre out wide and grounded Ireland’s only score in the 27 – 5 defeat to the Olympic silver medallists.

In the second game of the day, 21-year-old Murphy Crowe again put her name on the score-sheet in the second half, but by that stage Les Bleus had already continued their fine form with the scoreboard reading 24 – 14.

France pulled clear to lead 12 – 7 at half-time after Stacey Flood’s try and Lucy Mulhall’s conversion had levelled the match in the first half.

The second women’s team in action in the UAE today are a development side, and they suffered an early loss to an experienced Belgium squad before bouncing back with a 22 – 12 win over Poland in the Women’s Invitational.

U18 star Eve Higgins scored the only riposte in a 22 – 7 defeat to the Brisbane-based Tribe 7s. The day ended with a 20 -12 loss to the Kenya Lionesses, so tomorrow top-ranked Samurai 7s will be their opponents in the quarter-finals.

Ireland will also compete in the Men’s Invitational tournament tomorrow.

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