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Ireland Men Build Impressive Momentum In Monaco

Ireland Men Build Impressive Momentum In Monaco

The Ireland Men’s team negotiated the ‘group of death’ at the World Rugby Olympic Sevens Repechage tournament in Monaco, finishing top of the table thanks to wins over Zimbabwe, top seeds Samoa and Tonga.

16 teams are competing at Stade Louis II for the one remaining place at the Rio Games, and Ireland enjoying an unbeaten run to safely qualify from Pool A for tomorrow’s Cup quarter-finals.

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Irish tails are certainly up after claiming the scalp of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series core team Samoa and seeing off the respective challenges of Zimbabwe and Tonga. They will play Spain, the runners-up from Pool D, at 11.43am local time/10.43am Irish time tomorrow.

The Anthony Eddy and Stan McDowell-coached side ran in 14 tries and conceded seven through the pool stages, with Clontarf’s Mick McGrath touching down three times and Ian Fitzpatrick, Alex Wootton, Steve Toal-Lennon and Josh Rowland all scoring braces.

GLOBAL OLYMPIC SEVENS QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT – POOL A:

ZIMBABWE 12 IRELAND 24, Stade Louis II
Scorers: Zimbabwe: Tries: Manasah Sita, Boyd Rouse; Con: Lenience Tambwera
Ireland: Tries: Steve Toal-Lennon 2, Tom Daly, Alex Wootton; Cons: Steve Toal-Lennon 2

 
Ireland opened their pool campaign with a well-judged win over a dangerous Zimbabwean side in the late morning heat in Monaco.
 
The Irish were on the scoreboard within a minute, a Harry McNulty ruck poach and Tom Daly break from deep getting them up to the 22 before quick ball saw Steve Toal-Lennon go over in the right corner for an unconverted try.
 
Try number two followed soon after, Barry Daly’s determined work off the restart opening up Zimbabwe’s defence and a strong run from skipper Tom Daly saw him break free from 20 metres out, with Toal-Lennon converting.
 
Zimbabwe opened their account two minutes before half-time, some crisp build-up play forcing Ireland backwards and Manasah Sita stepped in off his left to score with Lenience Tambwera’s kick making it 12-7.


 
But Ireland gave themselves a 12-point cushion to take into the second period when Alex Wootton, who made the initial break, touched down by the posts, profiting from a Dan Goggin turnover and McNulty’s incisive run and final pass.
 
The closing seven minutes were largely defence-dominated but missed tackles proved costly for Ireland in allowing Boyd Rouse to dive over on the left after a slick counter attack.
 
The pressure was increasing with the lead cut to 19-12, however Ireland showed composure in winning a penalty to set up a close-in lineout and recent recruit Josh Rowland attacked out to the left where he put Toal-Lennon haring in at the corner for the clinching score.
 
IRELAND: Harry McNulty, Dan Goggin, Ian Fitzpatrick, Tom Daly (capt), Barry Daly, Steve Toal-Lennon, Alex Wootton.
 
Subs: Adam Byrne, Shane Layden, Mick McGrath, Billy Dardis, Josh Rowland.
 
SAMOA 21 IRELAND 27, Stade Louis II
Scorers: Samoa: Tries: Belgium Tuatagaloa, Alefosio Tapili, Savelio Ropati; Cons: Tila Mealoi 3
Ireland: Tries: Ian Fitzpatrick, Alex Wootton, Josh Rowland 2, Mick McGrath; Con: Tom Daly

 
Ireland stunned highly-fancied Samoa, the recent winners of the Paris World Series leg, into submission with a superb five-try display in the second round.
 
The men in green were really up against it early on, trailing 14-0 inside the first three minutes thanks to converted tries from Belgium Tuatagaloa and Alefosio Tapili.
 
The Irish defence was carved open twice in quick succession, but they dug their heels in and hit back when Ian Fitzpatrick got back to his feet after not being held in the tackle and dashed up the left touchline to score in the corner.


 
The margin was down to 14-12 thanks to a very well-taken seven-pointer from Alex Wootton approaching half-time, with Adam Byrne doing really in the build-up to ship a tackle and get his hands free for the scoring pass.
 
Samoa leaked a series of penalties and ceded territory past the hooter before a loose pass from the Islanders was seized upon by Josh Rowland for Ireland’s third try on the bounce. Tom Daly missed the conversion, leaving it 17-14 at the interval.
 
The young Irish side continued to keep possession well on the restart, probing for openings, and Clontarf’s Mick McGrath made a sizeable impact off the bench. With lineout ball moved from left to right, McGrath’s powerful surge and flat offload released Rowland to complete his brace.


 
22-14 became 27-14 with less than three minutes left, a high tackle on Billy Dardis handing possession back to Ireland and McGrath used his power and pace to get over in the right corner. Credit must go to Dan Goggin for a terrific offload in the build-up and Tom Daly’s long pass which fed the try scorer.
 
Samoa set up a grandstand finish, though, with a converted try ahead of the final minute, quick-stepping star Phoenix Hunapo-Nofoa igniting their attack and forcing the sin-binning of Rowland for a ruck offence in the Irish 22.
 
Tila Mealoi’s pinpoint conversion of Savelio Repati’s score made it a six-point game. It was all hands to the pump for six-man Ireland and they breathed a huge sigh of relief when Steve Toal-Lennon put just enough pressure on force a fumble from Alex Samoa who had the try-line in his sights. McGrath tidied up possession and bulldozed his way back up to halfway where he was tackled into touch just past the hooter.
 
IRELAND: Harry McNulty, Adam Byrne, Ian Fitzpatrick, Tom Daly (capt), Alex Wootton, Billy Dardis, Josh Rowland.
 
Subs: Barry Daly, Dan Goggin, Shane Layden, Steve Toal-Lennon, Mick McGrath.
 
TONGA 12 IRELAND 31, Stade Louis II
Scorers: Tonga: Tries: Viliami Siale, Taliauli Sikuea; Con: Siale Talakai
Ireland: Tries: Dan Goggin, Mick McGrath 2, Barry Daly, Ian Fitzpatrick; Cons: Billy Dardis 3

 
Ireland went into this final round clash knowing that a victory would mean that they would top their pool. They got off to the ideal start, setting up a lineout from a penalty and the pirouetting Dan Goggin got around the Tongan defence to cross the whitewash.

The Malmo 7s champions profited from another lineout shortly afterwards, Goggin disrupting the Tongan set piece and Tom Daly carrying hard into contact. The ball was swiftly recycled and Mick McGrath, fed by Billy Dardis, took off down the wing to burst past three defenders and score with Dardis converting.

Tonga replied in the fourth minute when Viliami Sale collected a loose ball to race clear and dot down for Siale Talaki to convert. However, Ireland’s lineout was the source of their third try of the first half, Goggin again winning the ball in the air and providing the platform for Barry Daly to put his foot down and outpace his opposing wing.

Leading 19-7, it was McGrath who opened Ireland’s account in the second period, gathering some scrappy ball out wide before outmuscling the Tongan defence to complete his brace by the posts, leaving Dardis with a simple conversion.

Josh Rowland then received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, but six-man Ireland managed to find space for another score, with Ian Fitzpatrick again capitalising on some loose ball to sprint in from his own half.

With the game well won, the Irish defence could be accused of switching off as they allowed Tonga in for a consolation try through Taliauli Sikuea as the hooter blew, making it a 19-point winning margin.

IRELAND: Dan Goggin, Shane Layden, Ian Fitzpatrick, Tom Daly (capt), Barry Daly, Mick McGrath, Billy Dardis.
 
Subs: Harry McNulty, Adam Byrne, Steve Toal-Lennon, Alex Wootton, Josh Rowland.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Global Olympic Sevens Qualifying Tournament, Stade Louis II, Monaco, Saturday, June 18-Sunday, June 19):

Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Tom Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt)
Barry Daly (UCD)
Billy Dardis (UCD/Leinster)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster)
Shane Layden (Buccaneers)
Mick McGrath (Clontarf)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Josh Rowland (Ireland Sevens)
Steve Toal-Lennon (St. Mary’s College)
Alex Wootton (Garryowen/Munster)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS – POOLS & MATCH SCHEDULE:

Pool A – Samoa, Zimbabwe, Tonga, IRELAND
Pool B – Canada, Germany, Uruguay, Sri Lanka
Pool C – Russia, Chile, Morocco, Tunisia
Pool D – Hong Kong, Spain, Mexico, South Korea

World Rugby Olympic Repechage – Full Results/Fixtures/Tables

Saturday, June 18 –

Zimbabwe 12 Ireland 24, Stade Louis II
Samoa 21 Ireland 27, Stade Louis II
Tonga 12 Ireland 31, Stade Louis II

Sunday, June 19 –

Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland v Spain, Stade Louis II, 11.43am local time/10.43am Irish time

The games will be streamed live via www.worldrugby.org. Click here for the tournament website and ticket information is available here. Follow @IrishRugby on Twitter for all the updates from Monaco over the weekend.