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Ireland Men Reach Last-Four With Victory Over England

Ireland Men Reach Last-Four With Victory Over England

Ireland Sevens newcomer Tamilore Awonusi tries to get past England's Joe Browning during the Cup quarter-final in Seville ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

It was a family affair for the Ireland Men’s Sevens team in Seville where brothers Mark and Tom Roche both touched down in a well-crafted 24-12 Cup quarter-final win over England.

With Anthony Eddy’s men joining their female counterparts in advancing to the last-four, it is the first time both Ireland sides have made it through to the semi-final stage at the same HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event.

A frustrating 19-12 defeat to Argentina saw Ireland finish as Pool B runners-up, but despite losing captain Bryan Mollen to injury, they bounced back to set up a semi-final showdown with South Africa tomorrow.

Mark Roche led Ireland out for the resumption of their pool campaign, Jamaica proving sticky opponents during a one-score first half.

On his first start, Tamilore Awonusi supplied clean lineout ball and Aaron O’Sullivan attacked out to the left where he passed for Conor Phillips to fly up the wing and in behind the posts.

Roche converted but it remained 7-0 up to half-time, his younger brother Tom seeing yellow for interfering with a Jamaican penalty inside the final minute.

Six-man Ireland held out during an exhaustive defensive spell, with O’Sullivan winning a crucial penalty and both Zac Ward and Sean Kearns tackling well.

The strong Irish bench made certain of the result, Terry Kennedy worming his way over following two quick-fire penalties conceded by Jamaica.

Kennedy soon doubled his contribution, getting on the outside of Jordan Sullivan-Warner to go over in the same right corner.

Kennedy turned provider for Ireland’s fourth and final try, flinging the ball back inside for Kearns to score after Phillips had done well to win the restart. 22-0 is how it finished.

Facing Argentina in the pool decider, Ireland twice lost the ball in contact before Santiago Vera Feld slipped out of a tackle for a hard-earned opening try, two minutes in.

An unfortunate clash of heads meant Mollen and Andrew Smith both had to be replaced, and Argentina worked some space on the left for Joaquin de la Vega to make it 12-0.

Phillips pulled a try back before half-time, racing clear from just inside his own half. Mark Roche, who had created the opportunity, converted from in front of the posts.

Kennedy’s quick thinking brought Ireland level inside a minute of the restart. He picked up scrappy possession in midfield, passed wide to Phillips and collected the winger’s offload off the deck to score in the right corner.

However, Ireland were stung by a breakaway match-winning try, Kennedy was crowded out near the right corner after a slick exchange between Ward and Jack Kelly, combined with Kearns’ evasive run.

The ball went to ground and the Pumas broke from deep, narrowly avoiding a knock-on before the jet-heeled Marcos Moneta retrieved his own dinked kick and sped clear for a 12th-minute match winner.

Ireland returned to the pitch for a super session packed full of quarter-finals. England stood between them and only their third ever World Series semi-final appearance.

Without sidelined skipper Mollen, the men in green came through a defence-dominated early spell before stinging the young England side with a fourth-minute try.

Niall Comerford gobbled up an overthrown English lineout and used his sidestep well to outfox the cover and speed through a gap to score from outside the opposition 22.

England immediately upped the tempo, Jamie Adamson’s strong run and offload putting Tom Bowen away down the left touchline for a levelling try.

Ireland hit back just past the half-time hooter, a big charge through the middle from Awonusi giving them momentum before Kennedy stretched the defence and brilliantly offloaded back inside for Tom Roche to finish off.

His older brother Mark converted to make it 12-5 at the turnaround, and a big collective surge – with Ward, Tom Roche and Awonusi all gaining ground – resulted in the elder Roche scrambling over from a few metres out.

The 29-year-old scrum half added a cracking conversion to boot, and with three minutes remaining, Ireland worked the ball wide from a scrum in the English 22 as Kennedy sent Phillips over untouched.

A late consolation try from Calum Randle failed to take the gloss of Ireland’s qualification for a semi-final clash with the number one-ranked Blitzboks.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC Spain Sevens, Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla, Seville, January 2022):

Tamilore Awonusi (IQ Rugby)
Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Sean Kearns (Ireland Sevens)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College RFC) (capt)
Aaron O’Sullivan (Blackrock College RFC)
Conor Phillips (Young Munster RFC/Munster)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Tom Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

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

Friday, January 28 –

POOL B:

IRELAND 33 GERMANY 5, Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jack Kelly 2, Andrew Smith, Niall Comerford, Tamilore Awonusi; Cons: Mark Roche 4
Germany: Try: John Dawe
HT: Ireland 14 Germany 5

Team: Bryan Mollen (capt), Jack Kelly, Andrew Smith, Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Mark Roche, Niall Comerford.

Subs used: Aaron O’Sullivan, Zac Ward, Conor Phillips, Tom Roche, Tamilore Awonusi.

Day 1 Round-Up: Winning Start For Ireland Men At Seville Sevens

Saturday, January 29 –

POOL B:

IRELAND 22 JAMAICA 0, Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Conor Phillips, Terry Kennedy 2, Sean Kearns; Con: Mark Roche
Jamaica: –
HT: Ireland 7 Jamaica 0

Team: Zac Ward, Tamilore Awonusi, Tom Roche, Mark Roche (capt), Aaron O’Sullivan, Conor Phillips, Sean Kearns.

Subs used: Terry Kennedy, Bryan Mollen, Sean Cribbin, Jack Kelly, Niall Comerford.

ARGENTINA 19 IRELAND 12, Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla
Scorers: Argentina: Tries: Santiago Vera Feld, Joaquin de la Vega, Marcos Moneta; Cons: Felipe del Mestre 2
Ireland: Tries: Conor Phillips, Terry Kennedy; Con: Mark Roche
HT: Argentina 12 Ireland 7

Team: Bryan Mollen (capt), Jack Kelly, Andrew Smith, Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Mark Roche, Niall Comerford.

Subs used: Aaron O’Sullivan, Conor Phillips, Sean Kearns, Zac Ward. Not used: Tamilore Awonusi.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Spain Sevens Fixtures/Results

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Spain Sevens Pool Tables

CUP QUARTER-FINAL:

ENGLAND 12 IRELAND 24, Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla
Scorers: England: Tries: Tom Bowen, Calum Randle; Con: Frederick Roddick
Ireland: Tries: Niall Comerford, Tom Roche, Mark Roche, Conor Phillips; Cons: Mark Roche 2
HT: England 5 Ireland 12

Team: Aaron O’Sullivan, Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy (capt), Mark Roche, Conor Phillips.

Subs used: Tom Roche, Tamilore Awonusi, Sean Kearns. Not used: Jack Kelly.

Sunday, January 30 –

CUP SEMI-FINAL:

SOUTH AFRICA v IRELAND, Estadio La Cartuja de Sevilla, 4.06pm local time/3.06pm Irish time