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Ireland Men To Face Argentina In Dubai Quarter-Final

Ireland Men To Face Argentina In Dubai Quarter-Final

World Sevens debutant Zac Ward is pictured on the attack for Ireland against South Africa in Dubai ©Mike Lee/World Rugby

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team finished the pool stages with a 33-0 win over Japan to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals on the opening day of the 2021/22 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

In sweltering heat at Dubai’s The Sevens Stadium, Ireland finished as the best third-placed team to set up a quarter-final clash with Argentina, the Pool B winners, tomorrow (kick-off 10.28am local time/6.28am Irish time).

Zac Ward, Fergus Jemphrey and Jude Postlethwaite all made their World Series debuts, with the 19-year-old Postlethwaite and Suttonians half-back Sean Cribbin both scoring their first tries at this level.

Coached by James Topping, Ireland lost their first two games, going down 28-7 to South Africa before a try right on the final hooter saw them lose 26-19 to Great Britain.

However, led by captain Billy Dardis, they bounced back with an ultra-professional performance as a Terry Kennedy hat-trick helped them to convincingly see off the challenge of Japan.

It was a daunting task for Topping’s charges to come up against the reigning World Series and Dubai Sevens champions in their Pool C opener, but they had some bright moments.

A Selvyn Davids brace had South Africa leading 14-0 at half-time, his first coming after a ball-dislodging tackle on Kennedy, and a harsh penalty call went against Ireland when Davids scored again late on.

In between, Ward and Jack Kelly both ran well, bringing Topping’s young guns up into the 22. The strong-carrying Kelly had a try ruled out for a forward pass from Kennedy.

Davids played in Ronald Brown for an early second-half score, before Ireland were thwarted by a crossing penalty against Kelly and then Kennedy was tackled into touch just a few metres out.

Kennedy did well to send Cribbin over with less than two minutes remaining, but in their efforts to build for another late try, Ireland coughed up a turnover and Brown broke clear to seal a four tries-to-one victory.

Postlethwaite, Cribbin and Niall Comerford came into the starting line-up for Ireland’s tussle with Britain, who took a third-minute lead thanks to a snappily-finished score by Jamie Farndale.

Dardis and company gradually wore down the red-shirted defence, Kennedy drawing in two players and Postlethwaite, the Ulster Academy centre, broke down the short side of a ruck to score in the left corner.

Ross McCann’s breakaway score, set up some nice footwork from Luke Treharne, had GB 12-7 ahead at half-time, but Ireland were quick to respond on the restart.

Jack Kelly was first to Dardis’ kick-off, Kennedy threatened from a kick through which saw Robbie Fergusson infringe and get sin-binned. Kennedy used the quick tap to touch down and Dardis converted.

The yellow card cost Britain a second try, Aaron O’Sullivan forcing a turnover penalty and Dardis swinging the ball wide for Comerford to nip over in the right corner. It went unconverted at 19-12.

Crucially, Britain managed to build some phases and Treharne teed up replacement Tom Bowen to cut inside Ward and run over from the right wing. Fergusson’s conversion brought the sides level.

In a tense finale, a crooked Irish lineout gave GB possession and they found a chink in the defence. Fergusson ghosted through a gap off a ruck and passed for Jamie Barden to score the match winner.

Kennedy led Ireland onto the field for their final pool outing against Japan, and they quickly went to work, mindful of improving their points difference.

Mark Roche’s skyscraper kick-off bounced off Japanese hands and Kennedy claimed the loose ball to score after just eight seconds.

Playing at a high tempo and stretching Japan’s defence, try number two followed when Liam Turner burst onto a Cribbin pass and grounded the ball despite the best efforts of Aseri Masivou.

Roche converted and also added the extras to Kennedy’s second try, the St. Mary’s College speedster again positioning himself perfectly to pick up the breaking ball from another monster restart by Roche.

Into the second half, Kennedy completed his hat-trick by breaking clear from a ruck just inside the Japanese half. Roche’s conversion made it 26-0.

After Japan lost Larry Sulunga to the sin-bin, Ward did well to tidy up a Cribbin cross-field kick and send up Ed Kelly over for a final try – converted by Dardis – in the right corner.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Dubai Sevens, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, November 2021):

Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Liam Turner (Dublin University FC/Leinster)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC) (capt)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Aaron O’Sullivan (Blackrock College RFC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Jude Postlethwaite (Banbridge RFC/Ulster)

HSBC WORLD RUGBY SEVENS SERIES – DUBAI SEVENS RESULTS/FIXTURES:

Friday, November 26 –

POOL C:

SOUTH AFRICA 28 IRELAND 7, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai
Scorers: South Africa: Tries: Selvyn Davids 2, Ronald Brown 2; Cons: Ronald Brown 4
Ireland: Try: Sean Cribbin; Con: Sean Cribbin
HT: South Africa 14 Ireland 0

Team: Jack Kelly, Liam Turner, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis (capt), Terry Kennedy, Hugo Lennox, Ed Kelly.

Subs used: Sean Cribbin, Aaron O’Sullivan. Not used: Mark Roche, Niall Comerford, Jude Postlethwaite.

GREAT BRITAIN 26 IRELAND 19, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai
Scorers: Great Britain: Tries: Jamie Farndale, Ross McCann, Tom Bowen, Jamie Barden; Cons: Robbie Fergusson 2, Jamie Barden
Ireland: Tries: Jude Postlethwaite, Terry Kennedy, Niall Comerford; Cons: Billy Dardis 2
HT: Great Britain 12 Ireland 7

Team: Jack Kelly, Liam Turner, Jude Postlethwaite, Billy Dardis (capt), Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Niall Comerford.

Subs used: Aaron O’Sullivan, Mark Roche, Fergus Jemphrey, Ed Kelly. Not used: Zac Ward.

IRELAND 33 JAPAN 0, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy 3, Liam Turner, Ed Kelly; Cons: Mark Roche 3, Billy Dardis
Japan: –
HT: Ireland 19 Japan 0

Team: Jack Kelly, Aaron O’Sullivan, Liam Turner, Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Mark Roche, Ed Kelly.

Subs used: Jude Postlethwaite, Billy Dardis (capt), Niall Comerford, Fergus Jemphrey, Zac Ward.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Dubai Sevens Results/Fixtures

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Dubai Sevens Pool Tables

Saturday, November 27 –

CUP QUARTER-FINAL:

ARGENTINA v IRELAND, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, 10.28am local time/6.28am Irish time