For the second game running, the Ireland Men’s Sevens team scored three tries but Australia’s fast start ultimately proved the difference in Friday morning’s 45-21 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 45-21 defeat in the Dubai heat.
Anthony Eddy’s side had opened their Dubai Sevens campaign, and indeed their debut season as a World Series core team, with a narrow loss to last year’s series runners-up, the USA, and they were intent on bouncing back against seventh-ranked Australia.
Missed tackles cost Ireland early on against the Australians who showed their quality with some fine finishing. Their captain Nick Malouf got away from Jack Kelly to open the scoring in the first minute, and Henry Hutchison and Josh Turner followed him over the whitewash via some slick offloading.
Adam Leavy’s cover tackle was not enough to prevent Jeral Skelton from grabbing his side’s fourth try, as Australia’s dominance of possession translated into a 26-0 lead. Still, Ireland’s first opportunity landed them a seven-pointer, the jinking Terry Kennedy releasing Jordan Conroy on the switch for a tidy finish.
Kennedy’s razor sharp sidestepping played earned him a try well past the half-time hooter, following a big carry on the opposite right wing from Aaron O’Sullivan and a looping skip pass from Hugo Lennox. Captain Billy Dardis knocked over his second successful conversion to close the gap at the break to 26-14.
That was as near as Ireland could get, though, as a tight refereeing call went against them, allowing Australia to turn over possession and send Joe Pincus galloping clear for their fifth try. Turner completed his brace in the 11th minute, finishing off a break by Josh Coward who had been brilliantly thwarted by the chasing John O’Donnell.
Dardis scored from his own tap penalty in the Australian 22, following up on some good build-up play in the previous phases by replacements Peter Maher, Mark Roche and O’Donnell. But the final word went to Australia’s Lachie Anderson who capitalised on a couple of tired tackles to seal a 24-point victory.
O’Donnell, who travelled as the 13th man, was brought in following the injury-enforced loss of key forward Harry McNulty. With their Cup quarter-final hopes now over, Ireland are hoping to regroup and finish the pool stages in strong fashion against Scotland this evening (kick-off 5.50pm local time/1.50pm Irish time).
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 v Ireland, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, 5.50pm local time/1.50pm Irish time
Saturday, December 7:
Play-Offs & Finals, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai