Ireland Men’s Sevens have booked a place in a first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series quarter-final as a core nation after advancing through to the knockout stages of the Cape Town Sevens as Pool winners.
Anthony Eddy‘s side backed up Friday’s opening game win over Australia with a four-try defeat of Samoa on Saturday before sealing top spot in Pool D with a 24-24 draw with Kenya, as Jordan Conroy’s late try – the winger’s 10th of the 2019/20 season – secured a share of the spoils at the Cape Town Stadium.
As Pool winners, Ireland will face Pool A runners-up Fiji in Sunday’s quarter-final at 12.02pm local time/10.02am Irish time.
It is the first time Eddy’s charges have reached a World Series quarter-final since becoming a core team, although Ireland did memorably finish third as an invitational outfit at the 2018 London Sevens.
Conroy’s late score in the far corner drew Ireland level in the final play after a fiercely contested encounter between the top two sides in Pool D, although Mark Roche was unable to secure a third straight win as his conversion attempt sailed wide.
Overall, however, it was an emphatic Pool stage performance from Ireland as they once again impressed in their 28-14 victory over Samoa as Conroy, Harry McNulty, John O’Donnell and Terry Kennedy all crossed against the Pacific Islanders.
In the second game of the day, Ireland traded blows with an incredibly physical Kenyan outfit from the first until the last minute and after first-half tries from Hugo Lennox and Aaron O’Sullivan, it was left to Conroy to ensure Eddy’s Men advanced through to Sunday’s knockout stages as Pool winners.
“It was great to put in a couple of performances here and topping our group is huge,” Kennedy said post-match.
“We know when we play our best we can deal with anyway and we’ve showed that in previous performances. We can build on these three Pool performances and hopefully the best is still yet to come.”