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Ireland Men Set Up Dubai Pool Decider Against France

Ireland Men Set Up Dubai Pool Decider Against France

Jordan Conroy 2/12/2022

Jordan Conroy in action ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) have made an unbeaten start to the Emirates Dubai 7s, drawing with Spain and beating invitational side Uganda.

A run of second half tries from Jack Kelly, Andrew Smith and Jordan Conroy had Ireland on the cusp on an opening win, but Spain’s Aratz Goicoechea struck late for a share of the spoils (21-all).

James Topping’s men then got their first run-out on the Sevens Stadium’s main pitch, emerging as 33-15 victors over the Rugby Cranes with Zac Ward, Conroy, captain Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen and Aaron O’Sullivan all touching down.

The Pool C decider takes place at 7.35pm local time/3.35pm Irish time, as Ireland, on five points, lock horns with leaders France who have six points. Spain are third on three points.

Converted tries from Eduardo Lopez (2 minutes) and Alejandro Laforga (4) had Spain leading 14-0 at half-time in this morning’s opening fixture of the second leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. A territory-starved Ireland were forced onto the back foot.

A simultaneous grounding by Conroy and Pol Pla ruled out a possible Spanish try from a kick through, before Lopez used the scrum possession to get away from Ed Kelly and score to the left of the posts.

A knock-on and a turnover proved costly for Ireland midway through the first half. A tackled Conroy was turned over by Laforga who took a quick tap and scored from close range past Sean Cribbin.

Ireland upped the pace straight from the restart. Spain went too long with the kick, allowing Leinster youngster Smith to tap from halfway. Conroy threatened before McNulty released Jack Kelly to power over in the right corner.

Mark Roche added a superb conversion off the left hand post, and Spain’s lead was erased just a couple of minutes later. Penalties brought Ireland back into scoring range and Smith beat one tackle and crashed over, grounding the ball despite the presence of two defenders.

Conroy edged the Rugby World Cup bronze medallists ahead in the 12th minute, the momentum created for him to pop up in midfield and evade two tackles on his way to the posts. Hugo Lennox converted to make it 21-14.

However, Spain’s counter-rucking won back possession and a late bout of pressure in the Irish 22 ended with replacement Aratz Goicoechea crossing from a Juan Ramos pass. The levelling conversion was supplied by Juan Martinez.

Ireland were fastest out of the blocks against Uganda, Jack Kelly contesting Roche’s high, hanging kick-off and young forward Ward was perfectly placed to collect the breaking ball and cruise in under the posts.

Uganda’s Denis Etwau took advantage of a favourable bounce to turn Aaron Ofoyrwoth’s kick through into an opportunist try. He doubled his tally soon after, sent through a gap by Timothy Kisiga.

Both conversions were missed, though, and Kisiga was tackled into touch by Niall Comerford to give Ireland late possession. They fed lineout ball out to the right where Conroy clinically burned past Etwau on the outside to make it 14-10 at the break.

Two minutes after the restart, a determined McNulty handed off Michael Okorach and pumped his legs to score as he took two defenders with him over the line.

A turnover penalty won by McNulty set the wheels in motion for Ireland’s fourth try. Cribbin’s bouncing skip pass had Mollen ghosting through and in behind the posts, with Roche converting for a 26-10 scoreline.

O’Sullivan got in on the act, plucking down Lennox’s restart and motoring clear down the right wing to seal a five-try victory. Etwau duly completed his hat-trick, with the African Sevens champions again showing their elusiveness out wide.

You can watch all the action as the Ireland Men compete at the Sevens Stadium, via the World Rugby Sevens Match Centre here.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Emirates Dubai 7s, The Sevens Stadium, Dubai, December 2-3, 2022):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Sean Galvin (Lansdowne FC)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Bryan Mollen (UCD RFC)
Aaron O’Sullivan (UCD RFC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

IRELAND SEVENS Schedule – Emirates Dubai 7s:

Friday, December 2 –


IRELAND 21 SPAIN 21, The Sevens Stadium Pitch 2
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jack Kelly, Andrew Smith, Jordan Conroy; Cons: Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox 2
Spain: Tries: Eduardo Lopez, Alejandro Laforga, Aratz Goicoechea; Cons: Juan Martinez 3
HT: Ireland 0 Spain 14

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Aaron O’Sullivan, Andrew Smith, Mark Roche, Sean Cribbin, Ed Kelly, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Hugo Lennox, Jack Kelly, Bryan Mollen, Niall Comerford, Zac Ward.

IRELAND 33 UGANDA 15, The Sevens Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Zac Ward, Jordan Conroy, Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, Aaron O’Sullivan; Cons: Mark Roche 3, Hugo Lennox
Uganda: Tries: Denis Etwau 3
HT: Ireland 14 Uganda 10

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Niall Comerford, Bryan Mollen, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Sean Cribbin, Andrew Smith, Hugo Lennox, Aaron O’Sullivan, Ed Kelly.

FRANCE v IRELAND, The Sevens Stadium, 7.35pm local time/3.35pm Irish time

Saturday, December 3 –