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Mixed Results For Ireland Men As HSBC SVNS Series Resumes

Mixed Results For Ireland Men As HSBC SVNS Series Resumes

Mixed Results For Ireland Men As HSBC SVNS Series Resumes

Gavin Mullin looks to connect with a team-mate during Ireland's Pool B encounter with the USA in Perth ©INPHO/Travis Hayto

The Ireland Men (sponsored by TritonLake) face a crunch final Pool B match against hosts Australia tomorrow, following a disappointing finish to the opening day of the HSBC SVNS Series tournament in Perth.

Jordan Conroy decided a tight battle with Great Britain, crossing in the 11th minute to give Ireland an opening 17-12 win. Nonetheless, they were second best against the USA during the night session at HBF Park.

James Topping’s side conceded three unanswered first half tries to a reinforced USA team, which had welcomed back some key personnel. Terry Kennedy’s second try of the day sparked a fight-back, before replacement Malacchi Esdale consigned the fifth seeds to a 26-7 defeat.

The US, who had earlier beaten Australia with a golden point try from Esdale, gained revenge for a 31-0 loss to Ireland at the last leg in Cape Town. They lead the pool standings overnight with six points, two ahead of Australia and three clear of Ireland.

Captain Harry McNulty and his team-mates kicked off the HSBC SVNS Series with a 19-12 triumph over Australia in Dubai last month, and will be targeting a similar result tomorrow. They are back in action in Perth at 2.11pm local time/6.11am Irish time.

You can watch all of the SVNS Series action for free on RugbyPass TV, while there is coverage of Ireland’s progress in Perth across the new @Ireland7s social media channels and in our Ireland Sevens hub: irishrugby.ie/ireland7s.

Ireland struck first in their pool opener, pressing forward after Zac Ward had won a turnover penalty. Kennedy, Sean Cribbin and Conroy chipped away down the left wing, putting Britain back on their try-line where Tom Williams was shown a yellow card.

Kennedy was held up in a double tackle, but following a scrappy spell and just before Williams’ return, Mark Roche broke to the right of a central scrum and fed Cribbin to cross in the corner in the fourth minute.

The ball broke loose from the restart, and Britain captain Robbie Fergusson gobbled it up, neatly releasing Tom Emery for a quick-fire reply from halfway. The missed conversion left it at five points apiece.

McNulty latched onto the ball to win a penalty at the breakdown, allowing Ireland to attack off a lineout past the half-time hooter. Kennedy jinked back to the left wing where he brilliantly outfoxed three defenders, slipping away down the touchline to make it 10-5.

However, Britain hit back within the opening 30 seconds of the second half. A key turnover led to Welshman Williams putting his inrushing skipper Fergusson over from 12 metres out. Emery’s conversion edged Britain ahead.

The GB defence took some breaking down, but with 11 minutes on the clock, a McNulty offload under pressure released Kennedy into space and he scampered up to the 22 before setting up Conroy to step inside Tom Williams for Ireland’s third try.

Replacement Hugo Lennox added the extras from the right, restoring the five-point gap, and Ireland saw out the result as Britain were penalised for sealing off after Kennedy had brought down Williams, and Conroy was quickly in at the breakdown.

Speaking afterwards about his link-up with Kennedy for the match-winning try, Conroy said: “I missed that last season (when he wasn’t with us). To have him back is absolutely beautiful. We got our first win out of the way, in front of an incredible crowd.

“We could hear ‘The Fields of Athenry’ there, and that just spurred us on. We’re just delighted. We worked hard and got a tough win, but it was worth it.”

A bulldozing run from Ward, on the back of an early turnover, saw Ireland make an encouraging start against the USA. A rare knock-on from Kennedy handed possession back to the Eagles and they soon showed how clinical they can be.

Lucas Lacamp’s diagonal run drew across two defenders, and he flicked a terrific offload back inside for his captain Kevon Williams to coast clear from halfway. Naima Fuala’au made it a quick-fire double as the 6ft 4in Aaron Cummings was able to tap back the restart.

Williams grasped his opportunity to attack the space and feed Fuala’au to go in behind the posts, with Steve Tomasin converting again. Ireland were 14 points in arrears midway through the opening half.

Kennedy, Ward and Connor O’Sullivan, who came into the starting line-up, spearheaded a promising Irish attack until Cummings forced a penalty at the breakdown. The USA picked their moment to extend their lead right on half-time.

At 37, Perry Baker showed he still had pace to burn by surging clear from a ruck inside his own half. He got away from O’Sullivan’s initial tackle, and the chasing Conroy was unable to reel him in before the try-line. Tomasin’s extras left it at 21-0.

Kennedy lifted Topping’s men within a minute of the restart. Conroy pressurised Lacamp into a loose pass, allowing Kennedy to hack the ball through, nudging it on despite Joe Schroeder’s presence, and he eventually got the touchdown ahead of a lunging Madison Hughes.

The straightforward conversion from Lennox brought it back to a 14-point game, and there were more promising signs for Ireland as the Eagles leaked a couple of penalties and their defensive workload increased.

Lennox unfortunately lost his footing in the opposition 22, handing hard-earned possession back. Feeding into two scrums, the US controlled possession and the clock before the fresh legs of Esdale settled the issue with a breakaway 13th-minute score.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC SVNS Series – Perth 7s, HBF Park, Perth, Friday, January 26-Sunday, January 28, 2024):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College RFC)
Gavin Mullin (UCD RFC)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Dylan O’Grady (UCD RFC)
Connor O’Sullivan (Lansdowne FC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – HSBC SVNS Series – Perth:

Friday, January 26 –


Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy; Con: Hugo Lennox
Great Britain: Tries: Tom Emery, Robbie Fergusson; Con: Tom Emery
HT: Ireland 10 Great Britain 5

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Hugo Lennox, Jack Kelly, Connor O’Sullivan, Gavin Mullin. Not used: Chay Mullins.

Scorers: Ireland: Try: Terry Kennedy; Con: Hugo Lennox
USA: Tries: Kevon Williams, Naima Fuala’au, Perry Baker, Malacchi Esdale; Cons: Steve Tomasin 3
HT: Ireland 0 USA 21

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Connor O’Sullivan, Zac Ward, Mark Roche, Gavin Mullin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Hugo Lennox, Jack Kelly, Niall Comerford, Sean Cribbin, Chay Mullins.

Saturday, January 27 –


AUSTRALIA v IRELAND, HBF Park, 2.11pm local time/6.11am Irish time


Sunday, January 28 –