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Ireland Men Beaten By Blitzboks In Hong Kong Opener

Ireland Men Beaten By Blitzboks In Hong Kong Opener

Ireland Men Beaten By Blitzboks In Hong Kong Opener

Skerries man Hugo Lennox prepares to throw a pass during Ireland's Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens opener against South Africa ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

The Ireland Men (sponsored by TritonLake) have ground to make up in Pool D following a losing start to the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens earlier today.

A Matthew McDonald try drew Ireland level with South Africa in their rain-hit opening Hong Kong game, but the Blitzboks pipped them 14-7 thanks to a Zain Davids score and some stubborn defence.

James Topping’s charges will look to bounce back tomorrow against Kenya (kick-off 11.28am local time/4.28am Irish time), before wrapping up the pool stages against top seeds New Zealand at 3.49pm local time/8.49am Irish time.

In the overall HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings, there are just 11 points between eighth-placed Ireland and Fiji, who currently sit fourth, as the race for Olympic qualification intensifies further.

With four legs of the Men’s Series left to play – Hong Kong, Singapore, Toulouse and London – there is still a lot to play for in the weeks ahead.

Lying eighth and seventh overall after seven rounds, Ireland and South Africa remained scoreless for the opening three minutes despite Liam McNamara wriggling through to just a few metres out.

The Blitzboks made the breakthrough when Mfundo Ndhlovu jinked inside Andrew Smith and evaded a tackle from a stretching Mark Roche to score from the edge of the Irish 22. Ricardo Duarttee converted.

Jordan Conroy led Ireland’s response, getting through the tightest of gaps and scrambling up into the South African 22. Better ball retention set up McDonald to score his first World Series try.

The IQ Rugby player picked from a ruck and backed himself to make the line, reaching out to ground the ball despite Shaun Williams’ cover tackle. The conversion from Mark Roche made it seven-all for half-time.

Captain Harry McNulty won an important penalty at the breakdown, breaking up South Africa’s early second half momentum, but Davids struck with 13 minutes on the clock to split the sides.

The big forward managed to get outside Tom Roche and cross in the right corner despite Smith getting across to tackle him. Duarttee’s well-struck conversion from out wide reopened the seven-point gap.

Despite working their way downfield past the final hooter with Conroy gaining promising ground through the middle, the Blitzboks forced a decisive penalty at the breakdown to win this bruising contest.

You can watch both Ireland Sevens teams in action across the weekend on the World Rugby Sevens Series website and app.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong Stadium, Friday, March 31-Sunday, April 2, 2023):

Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Fergus Jemphrey (Ballynahinch RFC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Matt McDonald (IQ Rugby)
Liam McNamara (IQ Rugby)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Tom Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens:

Friday, March 31 –


IRELAND 7 SOUTH AFRICA 14, Hong Kong Stadium
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Matthew McDonald; Con: Mark Roche
South Africa: Tries: Mfundo Ndhlovu, Zain Davids; Cons: Ricardo Duarttee 2
HT: Ireland 7 South Africa 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Matthew McDonald, Jack Kelly, Mark Roche, Liam McNamara, Andrew Smith, Jordan Conroy.

Subs used: Fergus Jemphrey, Tom Roche, Sean Cribbin, Hugo Lennox. Not used: Chay Mullins.

Saturday, April 1 –


IRELAND v KENYA, Hong Kong Stadium, kick-off 11.28am local time/4.28am Irish time

IRELAND v NEW ZEALAND, Hong Kong Stadium, kick-off 3.49pm local time/8.49am Irish time

Sunday, April 2 –