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Kennedy’s Late Tries Lift Ireland Men Into London’s Last-Eight

Kennedy’s Late Tries Lift Ireland Men Into London’s Last-Eight

Kennedy’s Late Tries Lift Ireland Men Into London’s Last-Eight

Terry Kennedy gets away from Argentina's Luciano Gonzalez to score during Ireland's second pool win of the day at Twickenham Stadium ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

Two late tries from Terry Kennedy proved vital during the pool stages as the Ireland Men’s Sevens team qualified for the Cup quarter-finals at the HSBC London Sevens.

Watch the HSBC London Sevens live here via World Rugby

Following up on his last-gasp match winner against Kenya, Kennedy completed his hat-trick in the dying seconds against Argentina as a dramatic 22-21 victory sent Ireland through to the last-eight.

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Giving his reaction afterwards as James Topping’s men finished as Pool B runners-up behind South Africa, Kennedy said: “That kind of epitomised what Sevens is all about. We showed up for the first half, did nothing for the second half and then came back into it.

“Thankfully we showed good composure for a second time today, to do it at the end. Harry (McNulty) and Jordo (Conroy) picked the pool last week – we were giving them stick all week for giving us a filthy enough pool!

“I don’t know, this group continues to show heart every time to get through it. Harry and a couple of our other forwards did a great job off kick-off and it makes such a difference to us in the backs.”

Ireland had earlier beaten Kenya 17-14 thanks to Kennedy’s 16th-minute score – adding to touchdowns from Aaron O’Sullivan and Conroy – before Conroy and Kennedy both scored again in a 19-12 defeat to South Africa.

Tomorrow morning will see Topping’s charges face a mouth-watering Cup quarter-final against New Zealand, the Pool C winners, at 11.20am. Kennedy’s five tries have moved him onto 44 for the season, topping the series’ scoring charts by seven.

The Ireland squad have been backed by some brilliantly vocal pockets of Irish fans around Twickenham, bringing back memories of their bronze medal-winning heroics from 2018 at the same venue.

The pool opener against Kenya was scoreless until Mark Roche went quickly from a penalty and the ball was moved wide to the right where McNulty’s excellent offload out the back door released O’Sullivan for the try-line.

Defences were on top as Ireland remained 5-0 up for half-time. Kenya attempts to respond were thwarted and Chay Mullins, an Under-20 Grand Slam winner earlier this season, caught Anthony Omondi with a try-saving tackle.

Kenya made a fast start to the second half, winning the restart and working Edmund Anya over for an early score. The conversion from Omondi edged Damian McGrath’s side in front.

Andrew Smith unfortunately had to be helped off with an ankle injury, but sprung from the bench, Conroy used a strong hand-off to hold off Johnstone Olindi and break through for a 12th-minute try from just outside the Kenyan 22.

Roche’s conversion made it 12-7 and although Arcadias Huku ducked under Conroy’s challenge to score from a ruck, Ireland made sure they had the final say thanks to some patient build-up play with the clock in the red.

A big leg-pumping run from Jack Kelly brought them back into the opposition 22 and with Kenya infringing, McNulty quickly played the penalty out to the left and Hugo Lennox sent Kennedy over to settle the issue.

South Africa, wearing their rainbow jerseys, held a 7-0 half-time lead in their clash with Ireland. The early exchanges were hard-fought and IQ Rugby’s Matthew McDonald did well out wide to prevent James Murphy from scoring.

Impi Visser’s sin binning gave Topping’s charges a numerical advantage, but the Blitzboks gave nothing away and used a late turnover off the back of a scrum to put Zain Davids over out wide.

Nonetheless, the ever-alert Conroy intercepted a Davids pass to give the men in green the ideal start to the second half, his try after just nine seconds being converted by captain Billy Dardis.

Kennedy made it a quick-fire double and a 12-7 lead, racing clear on the left after McNulty had slickly plucked down the restart kick from Dardis and fed the St. Mary’s College speedster.

South Africa hit back with a decisive brace of their own, though, as a couple of tight calls from the referee went their way and Mfundo Ndhlovu and Angelo Davids both finished smartly to turn a five-point deficit into a 19-12 win.

The final round shootout between Ireland and Argentina, the number one seeds, started at breakneck speed, scrum half Roche getting back to deny Marcos Moneta a try before McNulty secured turnover ball.

The men in green used it brilliantly, a jinking Lennox breaking out of the 22 and unleashing Kennedy to go over untouched from far out. Roche converted for a 7-0 lead.

Kennedy glided out to the right off a third-minute scrum to score quickly again, evading Gonzalez’s diving tackle to go over in the right corner.

Ireland’s early surge yielded a third try in the fourth minute, with possession retrieved once more from the restart. Lennox tapped a penalty and looped a pass out for Conroy to score by the corner flag.

Argentina struggled with their discipline at times, but launched a terrific three-try fightback after trailing 17-0 at the interval. Matias Osadczuk charged clear from a Gonzalez pass to get them on the scoreboard.

Gonzalez increased his influence, foiling a Conroy-led attack and then setting up a Moneta try. It was also converted to bring los Pumas back within striking range at 17-14 down.

They edged ahead when Gonzalez intercepted a Mullins pass, putting the pressure back on Ireland. Argentina crucially knocked from the restart, giving their opponents a scrum with just over a minute remaining.

Bryan Mollen carried well twice, making important ground. Dardis swept a long pass out for Conroy on the left wing and despite Moneta’s high tackle, the winger’s offload back inside was gleefully touched down by the supporting Kennedy.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC London Sevens, Twickenham Stadium, May 28-29, 2022):

Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC) (capt)
Aaron O’Sullivan (Blackrock College RFC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Matthew McDonald (IQ Rugby)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College RFC)
Chay Mullins (IQ Rugby)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Fergus Jemphrey (Blackheath RFC/IQ Rugby)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)

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

Saturday, May 28 –

POOL B:

IRELAND 17 KENYA 14, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Aaron O’Sullivan, Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy; Con: Mark Roche
Kenya: Tries: Edmund Anya, Arcadius Huku; Cons: Anthony Omondi 2
HT: Ireland 5 Kenya 0

Team: Harry McNulty, Jack Kelly (capt), Fergus Jemphrey, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Aaron O’Sullivan, Chay Mullins.

Subs used: Terry Kennedy, Bryan Mollen, Jordan Conroy, Billy Dardis, Andrew Smith.

IRELAND 12 SOUTH AFRICA 19, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy; Con: Billy Dardis
South Africa: Tries: Zain Davids, Mfundo Ndhlovu, Angelo Davids; Cons: Ronald Brown 2
HT: Ireland 0 South Africa 7

Team: Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, Matthew McDonald, Billy Dardis (capt), Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Hugo Lennox.

Subs used: Mark Roche, Chay Mullins, Jack Kelly. Not used: Fergus Jemphrey.

IRELAND 22 ARGENTINA 21, Twickenham Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy 3, Jordan Conroy; Con: Mark Roche
Argentina: Tries: Matias Osadczuk, Marcos Moneta, Luciano Gonzalez; Cons: Tobias Wade 3
HT: Ireland 17 Argentina 0

Team: Harry McNulty, Jack Kelly (capt), Fergus Jemphrey, Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox.

Subs used: Bryan Mollen, Billy Dardis, Matthew McDonald, Chay Mullins.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – London Sevens Fixtures/Results

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – London Sevens Pool Tables

Sunday, May 29 –

CUP QUARTER-FINAL:

NEW ZEALAND v IRELAND, Twickenham Stadium, 11.20am

All matches live on the World Rugby stream here.