Debutants Max O’Reilly and Jack O’Sullivan got amongst the tries as a much-changed Ireland Men’s Sevens team finished top of Pool B on the opening day of the final Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series leg in Lodz, Poland.
The youthful Ireland outfit put up big scores against hosts Poland (33-5) and Italy (43-0) before outlasting Wales 26-19 in the final round. Anthony Eddy’s men progress to play Portugal, the best third-place finishers, in tomorrow’s Cup quarter-finals (kick-off 11.22am local time/10.22am Irish time).
St. Mary’s College speedster Terry Kennedy contributed four tries today, closely followed by Jordan Conroy and teenage newcomer O’Reilly on three each. It was a memorable Sevens bow for the 19-year-old who won his first two Ireland Under-20 caps at last month’s World Rugby U-20 Championship.
With a huge year ahead as Ireland step up as a World Series core team and also build towards the Olympic Repechage, Eddy selected an experimental squad with Dublin University and Leinster’s Jack Kelly taking the captaincy reins. The third player to make his Ireland Sevens debut was Terenure College’s Adam La Grue.
Eddy’s charges fell behind to a Mateusz Plichta try in the Poland game, but good work by Hugo Lennox released Cormac Izuchukwu who finished well from 35 metres out for a 7-5 half-time lead. Kennedy, Conroy and forward Adam Leavy were sprung from the bench and shared out the remaining four tries as Ireland ran out convincing winners.
Kennedy had a superb run in between two defenders, stepping around another and outpacing a final chaser for his opener, and then a well-timed burst of pace took Leavy to the try-line. A misplaced Polish pass led to Conroy and Lennox setting up Kennedy out wide, and Conroy cruised home from the right wing for the fifth and final try, converted by Sean Cribbin.
An impressive five-try second half performance saw Ireland emerge as 43-0 victors over Italy. Lennox had a try ruled out for a forward pass while Alessio Giardiano was in the sin-bin, before the ball was whipped wide for Conroy to finish off, taking a defender with him over the whitewash.
The jet-heeled Conroy doubled his and Ireland’s tally for a 12-0 half-time scoreline, and Kennedy and Cribbin were first to the breaking ball from successive restarts to race clear and push the margin out to 24 points. Cutting in from the left wing, Lansdowne back rower O’Sullivan opened his account soon after.
Following Cribbin’s slick break, La Grue passed back inside for O’Reilly to get on the scoresheet. He made it a quick-fire brace, Jack Daly and Izuchukwu making 50 metres between them before O’Reilly brilliantly used quick ball to outpace two defenders and scramble past a third, the big total topped off by a terrific Mark Roche conversion from the touchline.
Ireland went on to edge out Wales, relying on a strong three-try first half to see them through. The action swung back and forth with Roche’s try-saving tackle on Afon Bagshaw followed by a cracking try from Cribbin, whose initial break was carried on by Kennedy before the out-half nipped over from a ruck inside the Welsh 22.
O’Reilly pushed it out to 14-0 thanks to a nicely-taken intercept try from his own 22 just as Wales were building pressure. Ireland were clinical again past the half-time hooter as Kennedy ghosted in between two defenders and grounded the ball in the left corner ahead of the chasing Luke Treharne.
Early in the second period, Lennox made it 26 points without reply when he sent Leavy charging down the left wing and collected a return offload to dart in behind the posts. However, Wales were far from finished and they had Ireland’s lead under threat in a matter of minutes with a three-try fight-back.
Lloyd Lewis notched a breakaway try from a well-timed offload, Bagshaw scored via a strong hand-off and Dafydd Smith added the third from a turnover. Although it was back to being a seven-point game with just under a minute remaining, a high tackle on Roche allowed Ireland to wear down the clock and close out win number three.
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2019 Rugby Europe Men’s Sevens Grand Prix Series – Round 2, Miejski Stadium, Lodz, Poland, Saturday, July 20-Sunday, July 21):
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians/Old Belvedere)
Jack Daly (Garryowen)
Cormac Izuchukwu (Old Wesley)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University) (capt)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College)
Adam La Grue (Terenure College) *
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne)
Hugo Lennox (Clontarf)
Max O’Reilly (Dublin University) *
Jack O’Sullivan (Lansdowne) *
Mark Roche (Blackrock College)
* Denotes uncapped player
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Results/Fixtures –
Saturday, July 20 –
Ireland 33 Poland 5, Miejski Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Cormac Izuchukwu, Terry Kennedy 2, Adam Leavy, Jordan Conroy; Cons: Mark Roche 3, Sean Cribbin
HT: Ireland 7 Poland 5
Team: Jack Kelly (capt), Jack Daly, Cormac Izuchukwu, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Max O’Reilly, Adam La Grue.
Subs: Jordan Conroy, Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Adam Leavy, Jack O’Sullivan.
Ireland 43 Italy 0, Miejski Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy 2, Terry Kennedy, Sean Cribbin, Jack O’Sullivan, Max O’Reilly 2; Cons: Sean Cribbin, Mark Roche 3
HT: Ireland 12 Italy 0
Team: Jack Kelly (capt), Adam Leavy, Jack O’Sullivan, Sean Cribbin, Hugo Lennox, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.
Subs: Jack Daly, Cormac Izuchukwu, Adam La Grue, Max O’Reilly, Mark Roche.
Ireland 26 Wales 19, Miejski Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Sean Cribbin, Max O’Reilly, Terry Kennedy, Hugo Lennox; Cons: Mark Roche 3
HT: Ireland 19 Wales 0
Team: Jack Kelly (capt), Jack Daly, Jack O’Sullivan, Mark Roche, Sean Cribbin, Max O’Reilly, Terry Kennedy.
Subs: Jordan Conroy, Cormac Izuchukwu, Adam La Grue, Adam Leavy, Hugo Lennox.
Sunday, July 21 –
CUP QUARTER-FINAL: Ireland v Portugal, Miejski Stadium, 11.22am local time/10.22am Irish time
The full pools, results and fixtures are available on the Rugby Europe tournament page.
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS – European Schedule:
June 22-23: Moscow, Russia – Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series First Leg (2nd Place/18 Points)
July 13-14: Colomiers, France – Rugby Europe Sevens Olympic Qualifying Tournament (Third Place/Repechage Qualifiers)
July 20-21: Lodz, Poland – Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series Second Leg