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Ireland Men Falter In Second Half Against Samoa

Ireland Men Falter In Second Half Against Samoa

Ireland Men Falter In Second Half Against Samoa

Jordan Conroy breaks clear to scorer a try for Ireland during their pool clash with Samoa in Toulouse ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team’s hopes of reaching the Cup quarter-finals in Toulouse hinge on tomorrow’s Pool D closer against Spain, following a frustrating four-try defeat to Samoa.

They had kicked off the France Sevens tournament in fine style this morning by securing their first ever HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series win over South Africa.

Terry Kennedy struck in the seventh and 12th minutes, sandwiching Jack Kelly’s breakaway try, as Ireland prevailed 21-12 in a super-charged pool opener in the rising temperatures.

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An in-form Samoa were next up and James Topping’s charges built a 14-5 half-time lead thanks to converted scores from Jordan Conroy and Kelly, who provided impact again off the bench.

Samoa capitalised on an early sin-binning for Kennedy, who was adjudged to have shouldered Paul Scanlan off the ball from a kick through. Steve Onosai duly barged over in the right corner past Conroy.

The sides exchanged choke tackles as the arm wrestle intensified, but the returning Kennedy used a penalty to take off downfield and release Conroy for the right corner. Captain Billy Dardis’ conversion moved Ireland in front.

In the final play of the first half, Dardis involved Kelly in a switch move and the Dublin University clubman showed impressive footwork to score from the edge of the Samoan 22. The difference was nine points at the turnaround.

However, the Samoans, who finished fourth in Vancouver last time out, regained control and translated their dominance of possession into three unanswered second half tries – and a late penalty – to emerge as 27-14 winners.

They stretched the Irish defence for Onosai to complete his brace, and another spell of incisive running and sharp passing ended with Scanlan darting over to move Samoa ahead – 17-14.

Ireland won possession back from the restart, but a counter ruck allowed Scanlan to nip through for a quick-fire double in the 12th minute. Melani Matavao tagged on a penalty during the final seconds for a 13-point winning margin.

In the earlier game, Ireland and South Africa were locked level at seven points apiece at half-time and Dardis importantly added all three conversions to give Ireland a crucial buffer late on.

Topping’s men thrilled the travelling support and the neutrals at the sun-splashed Stade Ernest Wallon as they brilliantly claimed the scalp of the reigning World Series champions and current table toppers.

The teams traded penalties at the breakdown before Dewald Human’s injection of pace led to Mfundo Ndhlovu taking advantage of two missed tackles, putting South Africa ahead in the second minute.

After Human’s restart went straight into touch, Ireland put together some decent phases but a Kennedy half break was the best they could muster.

South Africa missed out on a second try due to a terrific tackle from Conroy on Siviwe Soyizwapi, and then lost Zain Davids to a yellow card for slapping the ball out of Harry McNulty’s hands.

With Hugo Lennox immediately lifting the pace, hard carries from Zac Ward, McNulty and Andrew Smith had Ireland hunting down a try. It arrived when Kennedy sliced in between two defenders and rounded in behind the posts.

Dardis comfortably converted from straight in front, squaring up this intriguing battle, and Ireland hit the front inside the opening 30 seconds of the second half.

Kennedy broke from deep and offload out of a tackle for replacement Kelly to charge clear from 70 metres out, expertly evading the clutches of Ndhlovu and staying out of Ronald Brown’s reach.

Dardis supplied the extras before the Blitzboks were quick to respond. They worked numbers on the left and jet-heeled captain Soyizwapi darted around Conroy to reduce the deficit to 14-12.

Crucially, Ireland conjured up the match winner with two minutes to go. From a penalty conceded by JC Pretorius, the reliable Irish lineout allowed them to attack both wings before Kennedy swept in between two defenders – with Conroy on his outside – to score again.

Dardis was bang on target with his conversion from the right, putting nine points between the sides. Ireland wound down the clock with a couple of late scrums before Kennedy booted the ball dead to confirm the historic result.

Kennedy’s brace means he is top of the try-scoring charts for this season’s World Series on 34 tries, one head of Australia’s Corey Toole.

The Ireland Men’s previous best World Series result against the Blitzboks was a 19-all draw in Los Angeles in 2020, and Kennedy referenced that result when giving his reaction after today’s game.

“It’s incredible. We drew with them once before, we were nearly there, they scored in the last play,” he said. “So that was big for us, getting that win there.

“A couple of times at the start of the game we got a bit loose (in attack) but we looked after it after that. I think we showed how dangerous we can be when we keep the ball.

“Defensively we’ve just got to stay compressed. I don’t think very many teams are going to get around us. So if we stay compressed and push it to the edge I think we’ll do alright.”

This is the first of back-to-back tournaments for the Ireland Men’s side, with the series moving on to Twickenham Stadium in London next weekend, before concluding in Los Angeles in August.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC France Sevens, Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse, May 20-22, 2022):

Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC) (capt)
Sean Kearns (Ireland Sevens)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College RFC)
Chay Mullins (IQ Rugby)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Tom Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)


Friday, May 20 –


SOUTH AFRICA 12 IRELAND 21, Stade Ernest Wallon
Scorers: South Africa: Tries: Mfundo Ndhlovu, Siviwe Soyizwapi; Con: Ronald Brown
Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy 2, Jack Kelly; Cons: Billy Dardis 3
HT: South Africa 7 Ireland 7

Team: Harry McNulty, Zac Ward, Andrew Smith, Billy Dardis (capt), Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Hugo Lennox.

Subs used: Bryan Mollen, Chay Mullins, Jack Kelly, Mark Roche. Not used: Sean Kearns.

SAMOA 27 IRELAND 14, Stade Ernest Wallon
Scorers: Samoa: Tries: Steve Onosai 2, Paul Scanlan 2; Cons: Melani Matavao 2; Pen: Melani Matavao
Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Jack Kelly; Cons: Billy Dardis 2
HT: Samoa 5 Ireland 14

Team: Harry McNulty, Zac Ward, Andrew Smith, Billy Dardis (capt), Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Hugo Lennox.

Subs used: Jack Kelly, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen, Tom Roche, Chay Mullins.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – France Sevens Fixtures/Results

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – France Sevens Pool Tables

Saturday, May 21 –


IRELAND v SPAIN, Stade Ernest Wallon, 12pm local time/11am Irish time

Sunday, May 22 –


All matches live on the World Rugby stream here.