Jordan Conroy became the first man since 2010 to score five tries in a HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series game as the winger’s remarkable try-scoring feat fired the Ireland Men’s Sevens team to a memorable first win as a core nation.
Conroy produced a devastating display of finishing to grab all five of Ireland’s tries during a dramatic 31-29 triumph over Scotland in the final Pool B game of the Dubai Sevens on Friday evening.
With less than a minute left on the clock, Anthony Eddy’s men found themselves behind after a thrilling shootout in front of a packed crowd at The Sevens Stadium – but Conroy conjured one last act.
Ireland showed patience and precision with the clock in the red to eke their way downfield from their own try-line, and once they had moved within striking distance, it was left to Conroy to crash over, with replacement Mark Roche landing the winning points with the conversion from in front of the posts.
Not only was it Ireland’s first win as a World Series core team but Eddy’s side will now hope to kick on from here, starting with Saturday’s 11th-12th place play-off against European rivals Spain (kick-off 3.44pm local time/11.44am Irish time).
Wearing their all-white alternate strip, Ireland got off to the ideal start against Scotland, captain Billy Dardis’ clever kick through allowing Conroy to outpace Dougie Fife and score after just 48 seconds. Yet, the Scots snapped back with converted efforts from Femi Sofolarin, who swept onto his own chip kick, and Sam Pecqueur.
Encouragingly, those 14 points were clawed back by Eddy’s charges before half-time, and Conroy really began to stamp his mark on the game. Adam Leavy’s presence at a ruck forced a penalty and when the ball was moved wide, the Tullamore man evaded Sofolarin’s tap tackle for another classy run-in from his own half.
Dardis converted and also added the extras to Conroy’s hat-trick score, Jack Kelly winning the battle of the breakdown this time and Leavy ghosting through a gap before unleashing Conroy to provide the finishing touches for a 19-12 scoreline at the turnaround.
Pecqueur nipped in between Terry Kennedy and Conroy to bring Scotland level, and although Conroy hit back after being released on the outside by Dardis, Sofolarin’s 12th-minute touchdown from a quick tap tied things up again at 24-all, setting up a grandstand finish in the process.
The 10th-ranked Scottish outfit were within touching distance of victory when the elusive Pecqueur completed his hat-trick with little over a minute remaining. But the missed conversion left the door open, and Ireland duly delivered the match-winning blow with a high-tempo set of phases right from their own line.
It was Kennedy’s scurrying break which set the wheels in motion, sending Scotland scrambling back to their 22 where replacement Harvey Elms was sin-binned for deliberately playing the ball on the ground. Kennedy tapped six metres out, Aaron O’Sullivan carried to gain ground in front of the posts and John O’Donnell’s inviting pass put Conroy over from close range.
While Conroy’s heroics – he ended day one in Dubai as the tournament’s leading try scorer with six tries – was not enough to secure a passage through to the Cup quarter-finals, Ireland will hope that the hard-fought win is a springboard for Saturday’s play-off game and then into next week’s leg in Cape Town.
This weekend’s World Sevens Series action is being shown live on Sky Sports Arena, with streaming in some countries via the World Rugby website. You can keep up with Ireland’s progress in Dubai using the hashtag #IreM7s and on the Irish Rugby social media channels throughout the week.
The 2020 Ireland Sevens jersey is now available to buy online from Elverys Intersport, official sports retailer of the IRFU.
IRELAND MEN’S SQUAD (2019/20 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Dubai 7s, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, Thursday, December 5-Saturday, December 7):
Aaron O’Sullivan (Blackrock College/Leinster) *
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College) (capt)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University)
John O’Donnell (Lansdowne)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College)
* Denotes Ireland Sevens debutant
IRELAND MEN’S DUBAI 7s RESULTS/FIXTURES:
Thursday, December 5:
USA 24 Ireland 19, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Aaron O’Sullivan, Terry Kennedy, Jack Kelly; Cons: Billy Dardis, Mark Roche
HT: USA 12 Ireland 7
Team: Harry McNulty, Foster Horan, Aaron O’Sullivan, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Lennox, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.
Subs used: Adam Leavy, Jack Kelly, Mark Roche, Greg O’Shea. Not used: Peter Maher.
Friday, December 6:
Australia 45 Ireland 21, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Billy Dardis; Cons: Billy Dardis 3
HT: Australia 26 Ireland 14
Team: Jack Kelly, Foster Horan, Aaron O’Sullivan, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Lennox, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.
Subs used: Adam Leavy, John O’Donnell, Greg O’Shea, Peter Maher, Mark Roche.
Scotland 29 Ireland 31, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai
Scorers: Ireland: Jordan Conroy 5; Cons: Billy Dardis 2, Mark Roche
HT: Scotland 12 Ireland 19
Team: Jack Kelly, Adam Leavy, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Greg O’Shea, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.
Subs used: Mark Roche, Aaron O’Sullivan, Hugo Lennox. Not used: Foster Horan, Peter Maher.
Saturday, December 7:
11th-12th Place Play-Off: Ireland v Spain, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, 3.44pm local time/11.44am Irish time