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Ireland Men Tee Up LA Quarter-Final Clash With New Zealand

Ireland Men Tee Up LA Quarter-Final Clash With New Zealand

Ireland Men Tee Up LA Quarter-Final Clash With New Zealand

Ireland forward Harry McNulty tales on Wales' Ewan Rosser during the sides' Pool C encounter in Los Angeles ©INPHO/Travis Prior

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team, sponsored by TritonLake, have reached their eighth Cup quarter-final of this season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

With pool wins over France (14-12) and Wales (46-12), James Topping’s side advanced to the last-eight of the HSBC LA Sevens overnight and set up a showdown with New Zealand later today (kick-off 11.19am local time/7.19pm Irish time).

It means the Ireland Men have reached the quarter-final stage at all bar one of their nine World Series tournaments in 2021/22, the only blip being their ninth place finish in Vancouver.

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The silver medal success in Toulouse, coupled with fourth places in Seville and Singapore and some impressively consistent results, have Ireland on course for their highest ever World Series finish of fifth.

They began their Los Angeles campaign with back-to-back victories – Chay Mullins mustered a late match-winning try against France, and a runaway eight-try triumph over the Welsh saw Andrew Smith and Aaron O’Sullivan both bag braces.

Captained by Billy Dardis, Ireland were without Jordan Conroy for their opening two games due to the three-match suspension he was serving for his red card during last month’s Rugby World Cup Sevens European qualifier.

He returned for the Pool C decider against Fiji and despite Harry McNulty pulling back a try in the 11th minute, the double Olympic champions took a 21-7 verdict to finish top of the table.

Talismanic forward McNulty led Ireland out for their pool opener at the home of LA Galaxy, and the deadlock was broken by Terry Kennedy in the third minute when he dashed clear from just inside the Irish half.

Bryan Mollen dived on a loose ball, McNulty then carried well to interest two defenders and Kennedy sniped through from the ruck, stealing a march on Tavite Veredamu to score under the posts.

Hugo Lennox’s conversion split the sides at half-time, France hitting back late on when Pierre Mignot shrugged off a Smith tackle to score out wide on the right.

Ed Kelly came in off the left wing to ensure Ireland were first to threaten in the second half, but as the tension increased and neither team could snag a score, France struck in the 12th minute.

Varian Pasquet’s strong sidestepping run took him inside Ed Kelly and away from Dardis’ clutches. Fellow replacement Thibaud Mazzoleni added the extras from straight in front of the posts.

Ireland were 12-7 behind with time not on their side, but crucially Mazzoleni’s restart went out on the full and the prized possession was turned into the contest’s decisive try.

Kennedy’s short pass allowed Mullins to cut in past Aaron Grandidier on halfway and the Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam winner accelerated clear to score behind the posts, giving Dardis a simple conversion.

France got the ball back from the final restart, but Ireland, backing up their victory over les Bleus from the Toulouse leg, kept them out of their half and a Smith interception helped to seal a hard-fought 14-12 success.

An energetic start to the Celtic derby in round two saw Kennedy score inside the opening minute. Lennox kept the early tempo high from a penalty and Kennedy had the pace to dot down from a Smith pass.

Captain Luke Treharne edged Wales ahead in the third minute, converting his own try from a kick through that had a favourable bounce up off the post.

Direct running and some lovely handling, including a long skip pass from Dardis, paved the way for Leinster young gun Smith to respond, only for Lloyd Lewis to scamper clear and score from inside the Welsh half.

There was just enough time for Ireland to snatch a 17-12 lead to take into the break, with Smith doubling his tally after some patient build-up play and Lennox’s draw and pass. Dardis converted from the right.

Topping’s charges went on to dominate the second half with five unanswered tries, the first of them a blistering team effort straight from the Welsh restart which was plucked down by McNulty.

Smith’s instinctive offload out of a tackle connected with Niall Comerford before fellow replacement Mark Roche supplied the finishing touches to the move.

Wales then lost Callum Williams to the sin for a tip tackle on Jack Kelly, Comerford quickly using the extra space to run in a long range score that Roche converted for a 29-12 scoreline.

O’Sullivan stretched out of a Treharne tackle for try number six, and then Mullins’ arcing run took him to the try-line where his fingertips were enough to get the grounding despite Iwan Pyrs Jones’ despairing tackle.

Roche split the posts from the left and, with the clock in the red, O’Sullivan crossed for his second try of the match with a muscular finish, following Mullins’ inviting pass away from two defenders.

Buoyed by that 46-12 win and the addition of speedster Conroy, Ireland were hoping to repeat their historic win over the flying Fijians from earlier in the season.

However, a second-minute try from Waisea Nacuqu, via a deft offload from Kaminieli Rasaku, and a classy sidestepping run from the 23-year-old Rasaku put Fiji in control of the scoreboard.

A crooked lineout and a ruck penalty had seen Ireland cough up valuable possession, but a late first half surge almost delivered a try as Mollen made ground through the middle before O’Sullivan was bundled into touch.

14-0 behind at the interval, Ireland had to show patience during Nacuqu’s sin-bin period for a deliberate knock-on. Fiji kept them out until a nice line of passing launched the ball wide and McNulty was able to barge over in the left corner.

Dardis gave his team a further boost by converting from far out, with the aid of the right hand post, yet Fiji soon slammed the door shut. Some slick interplay released Iowane Teba to score and leave Ireland in Pool C’s runners-up spot.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC LA Sevens, Dignity Health Sports Park, August 27-28, 2022):

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


Saturday, August 27 –


IRELAND 14 FRANCE 12, Dignity Health Sports Park
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy, Chay Mullins; Cons: Hugo Lennox, Billy Dardis
France: Tries: Pierre Mignot, Varian Pasquet; Con: Thibaud Mazzoleni
HT: Ireland 7 France 5

Team: Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, Jack Kelly, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Terry Kennedy, Aaron O’Sullivan.

Subs used: Andrew Smith, Chay Mullins, Billy Dardis (capt), Niall Comerford, Ed Kelly.

IRELAND 46 WALES 12, Dignity Health Sports Park
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy, Andrew Smith 2, Mark Roche, Niall Comerford, Aaron O’Sullivan 2, Chay Mullins; Cons: Billy Dardis, Mark Roche 2
Wales: Tries: Luke Treharne, Lloyd Lewis; Con: Luke Treharne
HT: Ireland 17 Wales 12

Team: Harry McNulty, Andrew Smith, Chay Mullins, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Lennox, Terry Kennedy, Ed Kelly.

Subs used: Jack Kelly, Aaron O’Sullivan, Bryan Mollen, Mark Roche, Niall Comerford.

FIJI 21 IRELAND 7, Dignity Health Sports Park
Scorers: Fiji: Tries: Waisea Nacuqu, Kaminieli Rasaku, Iowane Teba; Cons: Waisea Nacuqu 2, Kaminieli Rasaku
Ireland: Try: Harry McNulty; Con: Billy Dardis
HT: Fiji 14 Ireland 0

Team: Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, Andrew Smith, Mark Roche, Niall Comerford, Aaron O’Sullivan, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Billy Dardis (capt), Ed Kelly, Chay Mullins, Hugo Lennox, Terry Kennedy.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – LA Sevens Fixtures/Results

HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – LA Sevens Pool Tables

Sunday, August 28 –


NEW ZEALAND v IRELAND, Dignity Health Sports Park, 11.19am local time/7.19pm Irish time

All matches live on the World Rugby stream here.