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Frustrating Finish For Ireland Men At Hong Kong Sevens

Frustrating Finish For Ireland Men At Hong Kong Sevens

Frustrating Finish For Ireland Men At Hong Kong Sevens

Dublin University's Jack Kelly scores a try for Ireland despite being tackled by Australian ace Maurice Longbottom ©INPHO/Isaac Lawrence

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) were agonisingly knocked out by eventual champions Australia at the opening leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Hong Kong.

After topping their pool with a perfect record yesterday, Ireland suffered two tight defeats to finish in seventh place and pick up 10 World Series points for their efforts.

James Topping’s side were on course for the Cup semi-finals when leading Australia 19-5. Jordan Conroy’s fourth try of the tournament was supplemented by a Jack Kelly brace.

However, in a dramatic second half, the Australians produced a three-try comeback while Sean Cribbin was in the sin bin. Maurice Longbottom’s 15th-minute score clinched a 26-19 win which sent Ireland into the 5th-8th place bracket.

The USA then ended the Irish involvement in the weekend’s action at Hong Kong Stadium. Another Conroy try was not enough for the Rugby World Cup bronze medallists in a 14-7 loss.

Playing a bigger role as a playmaker in Terry Kennedy’s absence, Skerries clubman Hugo Lennox stepped up to the plate and had a terrific tournament to earn a HSBC Dream Team nomination.

Australia controlled possession early on during the quarter-final, James Turner scooping a long pass out for his captain Nick Malouf to touch down in the second minute. A penalty from the restart allowed Ireland to build their way back.

A big clear-out and break from Harry McNulty, who combined with the supporting Niall Comerford, saw Ireland stress the Australian defence for the first time. Lennox supplied the assist for Conroy to go over in the left corner.

It was a double blow for Australia who lost Malouf to the sin bin for a foot trip on Zac Ward during the build-up to the try, which Mark Roche brilliantly converted from out wide.

Roche’s long restart forced Australia to kick to touch, a lineout penalty giving Ireland further momentum. The tricky Lennox took it quickly, dummying and fixing the defence for the freshly-introduced Kelly to cross in the left corner.

The conversion nailed again by Roche, Ireland reached half-time with a 14-5 advantage. They added a third try before Malouf’s return, Lennox tying in defenders and then Roche swinging a long pass wide for Kelly to get over past Longbottom.

Australia’s first cut at eating into the 19-5 deficit was repelled by a Kelly turnover, but they were given a lifeline when replacement Cribbin’s knock-on in a tackle was deemed deliberate and he received a yellow card.

Turner evaded the clutches of Conroy to pull a try back in the 13th minute, Longbottom adding the crucial conversion. With just over a minute remaining, Malouf scored straight from the restart with a superb catch and run to the line.

Longbottom’s coolly-struck conversion tied it up at 19-all, and Australia went on snatch a thrilling victory as Ireland coughed up possession at a crucial stage.

Henry Hutchison won a vital turnover past the final hooter, putting them back on the attack. Attacking on the left wing, the wily Longbottom injected some pace and took a return pass from Stuart Dunbar to score and spark wild celebrations.

Facing the USA next up, an early penalty won by Cribbin at the breakdown was replied to by Gavan D’Amore. Neither defence gave much away until the Eagles scored slightly against the run of play.

McNulty and Cribbin were edging Ireland closer to the try-line when a penalty allowed the USA to break. Cody Melphy managed to release D’Amore to dash clear from 70 metres out and make it 7-0 for half-time.

The men in green were down to six players early in the second half, with Tom Roche’s left hand knocking the ball on in a tackle. His sin-binning was punished with a second American try.

They got Perry Baker more involved before attacking the opposite wing and then Malacchi Esdale found enough of a gap to raid in behind the posts. Melphy converted for a 14-0 scoreline.

Conroy swiftly clawed back seven points, darting through from halfway with his clever in-and-out running giving him enough space to get the ball down ahead of the covering Ben Broselle.

The left-footed Lennox swung over the extras with a classy kick, and with tiredness creeping in, both teams kicked the ball dead during the closing minutes.

The USA held firm to claim the result, though, with Aaron Cummings helping them to win the breakdown battle. Falling to a second successive deat, Ireland were left frustrated by the number of penalties they conceded.

Topping’s charges will be back in action at the Dubai leg on December 2-3, where they have been placed in Pool C alongside European rivals France and Spain, and invitational team Uganda.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong Stadium, November 4-6, 2022):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC) (capt)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC)
Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC)
Aaron O’Sullivan (UCD RFC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Tom Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

IRELAND SEVENS Results – Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens:

Friday, November 4 –


IRELAND 28 KENYA 12, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Niall Comerford, Jordan Conroy 2, Jack Kelly; Cons: Mark Roche 2, Billy Dardis 2
Kenya Tries: Billy Odhiambo 2; Con: Anthony Omondi
HT: Ireland 14 Kenya 5

Match Report: Ireland Men Begin Hong Kong Sevens With Four-Try Win

Team: Harry McNulty, Aaron O’Sullivan, Tom Roche, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Niall Comerford, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Jack Kelly, Ed Kelly, Billy Dardis (capt), Sean Cribbin, Zac Ward.

Saturday, November 5 –


IRELAND 19 CANADA 17, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Zac Ward, Jordan Conroy, Harry McNulty; Cons: Mark Roche 2
Canada: Tries: David Richard, Anton Ngongo, Alex Russell; Con: Brock Webster
HT: Ireland 7 Canada 5

Team: Harry McNulty, Aaron O’Sullivan, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Sean Cribbin, Ed Kelly, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Jack Kelly, Billy Dardis (capt), Tom Roche, Niall Comerford, Dylan O’Grady.

ARGENTINA 17 IRELAND 21, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Argentina: Tries: Tomas Lizazu 2, Rodrigo Isgro; Con: Tobias Wade
Ireland: Tries: Hugo Lennox, Harry McNulty, Ed Kelly; Cons: Billy Dardis 2, Mark Roche
HT: Argentina 12 Ireland 14

Team: Harry McNulty, Jack Kelly, Tom Roche, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Lennox, Niall Comerford, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Aaron O’Sullivan, Jordan Conroy, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Ed Kelly.

Day 2 Round-Up: Ireland Men Maintain Winning Form To Top Hong Kong Pool

Sunday, November 6 –


IRELAND 19 AUSTRALIA 26, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Jack Kelly 2; Cons: Mark Roche 2
Australia: Tries: Nick Malouf 2, James Turner, Maurice Longbottom; Cons: Maurice Longbottom 2, Stuart Dunbar
HT: Ireland 14 Australia 5

Team: Harry McNulty, Aaron O’Sullivan, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Niall Comerford, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Jack Kelly, Tom Roche, Ed Kelly, Sean Cribbin, Billy Dardis (capt).


IRELAND 7 USA 14, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Jordan Conroy; Con: Hugo Lennox
USA: Tries: Gavan D’Amore, Malacchi Esdale; Cons: Cody Melphy 2
HT: Ireland 0 USA 7

Team: Harry McNulty, Jack Kelly, Aaron O’Sullivan, Mark Roche, Sean Cribbin, Ed Kelly, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Jordan Conroy, Zac Ward, Tom Roche, Hugo Lennox, Niall Comerford.