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Opening Win Proves Elusive For Ireland Men At Vancouver Sevens

Opening Win Proves Elusive For Ireland Men At Vancouver Sevens

Opening Win Proves Elusive For Ireland Men At Vancouver Sevens

Connor O'Sullivan, who scored Ireland's second try against New Zealand, is playing in his fourth HSBC SVNS Series tournament ©INPHO/Travis Prior

The Ireland Men’s Cup quarter-final hopes at the Vancouver Sevens hinge on a high-stakes showdown with South Africa in the final round of the pool stages tomorrow (Saturday).

Ireland (sponsored by TritonLake) kicked off the latest leg of the HSBC SVNS Series with a disappointing late 17-14 loss to Great Britain, who came from two tries down to nick the result thanks to Will Homer’s score past the final hooter.

The losing bonus point, and another earned late on in a 19-14 defeat to New Zealand, leaves James Topping’s men still in with a shout of reaching the quarter-finals as most likely one of the best third place finishers.

Connor O’Sullivan came off the bench to score in the 16th minute against the All Blacks Sevens, adding to Niall Comerford’s seven-pointer just after half-time. Jordan Conroy and Zac Ward were Ireland’s other day one try scorers under the roof at BC Place.

Grouped in what is akin to a ‘pool of death’ alongside New Zealand, South Africa, and Britain, the Perth bronze medallists will take on the Blitzboks at 1.05pm local time/9.05pm Irish time on Saturday. Despite their losing start, one good result could turn their weekend around.

Fourth place finishers in Vancouver last year, Ireland got off to an ideal start by scoring after just 37 seconds against Britain. Conroy marked his 30th HSBC SVNS Series tournament with a quick-fire 113th try.

Billy Dardis’ kick-off was plucked down by captain Harry McNulty, and Terry Kennedy soon bounced back to the right where Conroy flew through a gap to glide in under the posts. Dardis converted for a 7-0 lead.

Ward uncharacteristically dropped a McNulty pass as Ireland quickly mounted another attack, but the Ballynahinch clubman was clinical with his next opportunity. He jinked away from Morgan Williams for a well-taken fifth-minute score, converted by Dardis.

However, GB captain Robbie Fergusson lifted his team-mates with a late try before half-time, bringing the deficit back to seven points. It was just a two-point game after Tom Emery’s pass gave Williams enough time and space to cross in the left corner.

That set up a fascinating final five minutes, with the breakdown fiercely contested. Britain’s counter-rucking drew them back downfield, but Kennedy worked hard to win a key penalty and move Ireland out of their own 22.

Just as they were looking to build through the phases, Comerford were penalised for sealing off at a ruck. The possession led to replacement Homer breaking down the blindside of a ruck to decide this tight contest in GB’s favour.

Ireland had to play catch-up in their second Pool C match against New Zealand, who had lost 21-12 to South Africa during the opening round. Joe Webber showed good strength to score from Akuila Rokolisoa’s pass out of contact, inside the first minute.

A kinder bounce could have seen Chay Mullins turn Gavin Mullin’s kick through into a try-scoring chance. The All Blacks Sevens looked dangerous on the counter, but Comerford showed his breakdown smarts to earn a fifth-minute penalty.

Still, a subsequent knock-on by Dardis proved costly as Cody Vai used the set-piece possession to stretch the Irish defence. His offload did not go to hand, but some excellent footwork from Rokolisoa saw him jink his way in under the posts.

Ireland dug deep to avoid conceding while McNulty was in the sin bin for what was deemed a deliberate knock-on. New Zealand’s lead remained 14-0 for the break after Dardis did well to force a knock-on from Scott Curry.

Dardis increased his influence by putting the second half kick-off on a plate for his chasers. Ward tapped the ball back and it bounced loose for the inrushing Comerford to collect and go over untouched for an opportunist converted try.

McNulty pinched a lineout, and Ward and Kennedy both gained ground before Sean Cribbin unfortunately knocked on at the edge of the New Zealand 22. In response, a sidestepping Tepaea Cook Savage used his fresh legs to run in what proved to be the clinching try.

Time was not on Ireland’s side, but Conroy pressed out wide and a couple of penalties drew them nearer, setting up O’Sullivan to barge over and make sure he got a clear grounding under pressure from Tim Mikkelson.

It was a fine finish from the Australian-born 23-year-old, topped off by a second Hugo Lennox conversion, and keeps Ireland in quarter-final contention, with both New Zealand (3 points) and South Africa (4) still within reach.

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

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC SVNS Series – Vancouver 7s, BC Place, Vancouver, Friday, February 23-Sunday, February 25, 2024):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Matthew McDonald (Ireland Sevens)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC) (capt)
Gavin Mullin (UCD RFC)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Connor O’Sullivan (Lansdowne FC)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

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

Friday, February 23 –


Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Zac Ward; Cons: Billy Dardis 2
Great Britain: Tries: Robbie Fergusson, Morgan Williams, Will Homer; Con: Tom Emery
HT: Ireland 14 Great Britain 7

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Matthew McDonald, Zac Ward, Billy Dardis, Sean Cribbin, Terry Kennedy, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Niall Comerford, Hugo Lennox, Chay Mullins, Gavin Mullin. Not used: Ed Kelly.

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Niall Comerford, Connor O’Sullivan; Cons: Hugo Lennox 2
New Zealand: Tries: Joe Webber, Akuila Rokolisoa, Tepaea Cook Savage; Cons: Akuila Rokolisoa 2
HT: Ireland 0 New Zealand 14

Team: Harry McNulty (capt), Niall Comerford, Chay Mullins, Billy Dardis, Gavin Mullin, Terry Kennedy, Ed Kelly.

Replacements used: Hugo Lennox, Jordan Conroy, Zac Ward, Sean Cribbin, Connor O’Sullivan.

Saturday, February 24 –


IRELAND v SOUTH AFRICA, BC Place, 1.05pm local time/9.05pm Irish time


Sunday, February 25 –