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Ireland Men Go Extra Mile To Reach Vancouver’s Last-Four

Ireland Men Go Extra Mile To Reach Vancouver’s Last-Four

Ireland Men Go Extra Mile To Reach Vancouver’s Last-Four

Zac Ward is pictured in action during Ireland's pool clash with Australia at BC Place in Vancouver ©Mike Lee - KLC Fotos for World Rugby

Zac Ward’s extra-time try – some 22 minutes into the game – dramatically propelled the Ireland Men (sponsored by TritonLake) into the Cup semi-finals at the HSBC Canada Sevens.

There were joyous scenes overnight in Vancouver where Ireland edged out the USA 15-10 in a nail-biting encounter to reach the last-four for the first time since Dubai in December.

James Topping’s side had twice taken the lead through Jack Kelly and Jordan Conroy, but the USA made it 10-all right at the death through Malacchi Esdale.

In a game of no conversions and stout defending, Ireland looked the more likely winners in extra-time until replacement Ward used turnover ball to score from five metres out.

They applied the pressure at an American scrum, captain Harry McNulty hoovering up precious possession in try-scoring range before Ward shrugged off Faitala Talapusi’s tackle to send the men in green through.

They will face second-ranked Argentina in a mouth-watering semi-final later today at 2.10pm local time/10.10pm Irish time. France and Australia also remain in contention for silverware.

It is a big boost to the Ireland Men’s challenge for Olympic qualification as they are set to close the gap on some of the teams above them in the overall HSBC World Series standings.

It has already been a memorable weekend for Conroy who became the first Irishman to score 100 World Series tries when touching down in a 21-7 defeat to Australia. With a vastly superior scoring difference, Ireland still finished top of Pool D.

The Tullamore flyer’s enviable record now stands at 101 tries in 117 matches. He is the second leading try scorer this season on 27, just behind New Zealand’s Akuila Rokolisoa (28).

The Ireland Men conceded inside the opening minute against Australia, Darby Lancaster getting away from Dylan O’Grady to score from inside his own half. Maurice Longbottom converted.

Defences were on top for the rest of the first half, the breakdown fiercely contested throughout and Ireland holding the territorial edge without being able to make a breakthrough.

O’Grady did well to catch Josh Turner with a try-saving tackle as Australia created an opening out wide. McNulty’s meaty follow-up hit forced Lancaster into touch.

The freshly-introduced Conroy also hauled down Lancaster in try-scoring range, ably assisted by Hugo Lennox’s breakdown work to win a clearing penalty as the teams reached half-time at 7-0.

Lancaster turned provider, injecting some pace and passing away from a couple of defenders to send replacement Dally Bird striding over for a ninth-minute try, converted by Longbottom.

Billy Dardis set up replacement Bryan Mollen to drive Ireland up into the Australian 22, and a smart surge and offload from McNulty had Conroy slipping past Matthew Gonzalez and Turner to chalk up his century score.

Dardis’ conversion cut the deficit to 14-7 with just under two minutes remaining, but Australia squeezed in a vital late try to reach the last-eight, just ahead of Canada. A switch move put Henry Paterson over past the final hooter.

When they returned to the BC Place pitch to face the USA, Ireland got the fast start they craved. Kelly and Tom Roche hounded the US into conceding a penalty, the former taking a quick tap to power over after just 23 seconds.

There were some bruising exchanges in a very physical first half, Mike Friday’s men levelling at five points apiece after Marcus Tupuola’s incisive midfield run and pass for Baker to score his 250th World Series try out wide.

Mollen was brought down a few metres short as Ireland almost hit back before the break. Tom Roche’s jinking run and long pass had set up the opportunity, but his brother Mark then leaked a penalty for not releasing as the Eagles held firm.

Topping’s charges reclaimed the lead in the 10th minute, attacking quickly from a Lennox turnover penalty. McNulty and Kelly led the charge up into the US 22, and the skipper picked from a ruck and looped a pass wide for Conroy to dot down.

The try went unconverted and Mark Roche then uncharacteristically miscued his restart. Niall Comerford and Kelly made up for that by winning the breakdown battle, earning another penalty near halfway.

Esdale fired back with a similar penalty win and he popped up to score to the right of the posts with 13 seconds remaining. Credit to replacement Gavan D’Amore for a strong burst in the build-up, but Steve Tomasin slid the conversion wide.

With the sides locked level at 10-all, extra-time was called for and the ‘first score wins’ scenario. The US were pinned back inside their own half for the first period, with Comerford and Andrew Smith gaining decisions at the breakdown.

A forward pass prevented McNulty from pressing for a late score, deep inside the American 22, but a jinking Lennox combined with Smith to put Ireland on the front foot when the second half got underway.

Despite Smith knocking on in a tackle after good work from McNulty and Conroy, Ireland heaped pressure on at the scrum, McNulty securing a loose ball on the deck and Ward arrowed through a narrow gap to decide this epic battle.

You can watch all the action as the Ireland Men compete at BC Place, via the World Rugby Sevens Match Centre here. You will need to register for a free World Rugby account.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC Canada Sevens, BC Place, Vancouver, Canada, March 3-5, 2023):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Matt McDonald (IQ Rugby)
Tom Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Bryan Mollen (UCD FC)
Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – HSBC Canada Sevens:

Friday, March 3 –


Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Hugo Lennox, Andrew Smith 2, Dylan O’Grady; Cons: Mark Roche 4, Billy Dardis
Canada: Try: Kalin Sager
HT: Ireland 21 Canada 0

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Tom Roche, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Andrew Smith, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Niall Comerford, Bryan Mollen, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Dylan O’Grady.

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Bryan Mollen, Mark Roche, Dylan O’Grady 2, Jordan Conroy 2, Tom Roche, Zac Ward; Cons: Mark Roche 3, Billy Dardis 2
Chile: Try: Diego Greiber; Con: Luca Strabucchi
HT: Ireland 26 Chile 0

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Matt McDonald, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen, Andrew Smith, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Billy Dardis, Zac Ward, Hugo Lennox, Jordan Conroy, Tom Roche.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Men Kick Off Canada Sevens In High-Scoring Form

Saturday, March 4 –


Scorers: Australia: Tries: Darby Lancaster, Dally Bird, Henry Paterson; Cons: Maurice Longbottom 3
Ireland: Try: Jordan Conroy; Con: Billy Dardis
HT: Australia 7 Ireland 0

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Hugo Lennox, Andrew Smith, Dylan O’Grady.

Subs used: Jordan Conroy, Jack Kelly, Billy Dardis, Bryan Mollen, Matt McDonald.


IRELAND 15 USA 10 (after extra-time), BC Place
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jack Kelly, Jordan Conroy, Zac Ward
USA: Tries: Perry Baker, Malacchi Esdale
HT: Ireland 5 USA 5

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Jack Kelly, Tom Roche, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen, Andrew Smith, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Hugo Lennox, Niall Comerford, Billy Dardis, Dylan O’Grady, Zac Ward.

Watch The Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland v USA

Sunday, March 5 –


ARGENTINA v IRELAND, BC Place, 2.10pm local time/10.10pm Irish time