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Lightning strikes: Irish Sevens team shock French women to finish on a high

The ladies of Ireland came a cropper against Canada and Spain but defeated France (twice), Wales and the not-so-mighty Germans.

Ireland's Claire Molloy.
Ireland's Claire Molloy.
Image: ©INPHODan Sheridan

WHILE THE BLUES of Leinster were wrapping up their second successive Heineken Cup Final at the weekend, another Irish side were taking home some silverware of their own.

The Irish Lightning, a representative Sevens rugby side, defeated France 7-5 in Amsterdam to win the ‘Boot Final’ and finish in seventh place overall.

While the prize may not be as illustrous as that brought back to Leinster by Joe Schmidt and company, it represents a solid start on Ireland’s long road towards playing Sevens rugby at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The Irish team, featuring Six Nations stars such as Lynne Cantwell, Sophie Spence and Claire Molloy, were only assembled in early April and only appeared at the Amsterdam Sevens as a representative selection.

Tough first day

The Lightning came up against an excellent Canadian side on the first day of action. Canada, the eventual winners, emerged 15-5 victors thanks to a hat-trick of tries from Cheryl Phillips.

Canada coach John Tait said, “I thought the score-line wasn’t indicative of the run of play.” He added:

We had them under pressure in their own end throughout. We didn’t finish off some of the chances we created which made it seem closer then it was.

The situation got worse for the Irish as they were beaten 19-10 by Spain in their next outing.

However the day ended on a positive note as the Irish side showed great heart to defeat France 19-12.

Getting the boot

To reach the Boot Final, the Lightning had to first overcome Germany in their first match on the second day, followed by a match against the Welsh.

The game was hotly contested and it took a late try to seal a 17-12 win. The ladies then put in their finest performance of the tournament to dispatch Wales 26-0.

The final was a low scoring affair and France were the first to strike.

The Lightning bolted back straight from the restart and Cantwell sniped up the middle to sprint home and touchdown from the halfway line.

As she touched down under the posts, the follow up conversion was simply taken for a 7-5 lead the Irish would not give up.

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