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Ireland Men Build First Day Momentum At Hamburg Sevens

Ireland Men Build First Day Momentum At Hamburg Sevens

Ireland Men Build First Day Momentum At Hamburg Sevens

Ireland's Andrew Smith is pictured scoring a try during their opening win over Croatia at the Hamburg Sevens ©Jürgen Kessler/Rugby Europe

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team (sponsored by TritonLake) booked their place in the Hamburg Sevens Cup quarter-finals with two convincing wins on the opening day.

Ireland are the top scorers so far across the three pools, running in 14 tries and conceding just one during their victories over Croatia (43-0) and Belgium (43-7). Tomorrow’s Pool B decider against Portugal kicks off at 11.44am Irish time (live on Rugby Europe TV).

This is the second and final leg of the Rugby Europe Sevens Championship, and James Topping’s side, who were runners-up to France in Makarska three weeks ago, have made a strong start in their bid to challenge for the overall title.

In their final competitive outing before the Olympics, eight members of their selected squad for the Paris Games – and the two travelling reserves – are in action in Hamburg, including Hugo Keenan and Andrew Smith who both crossed the whitewash today.

Summing up the mood in the camp, Hugo Lennox said: “It was great to get two wins on the board. I think we’re most pleased with our defensive performance, not allowing any tries in the first match and then only one there.

“Been here (in Hamburg) a couple of times now, it’s a great place. The pitch is looking great, so (we’re) really enjoying it, Ready for tomorrow now.”

Ireland had no points to show for some promising initial phases against Croatia, but the breakthrough came in the second minute. Chay Mullins won a penalty at the breakdown which led to Niall Comerford finishing crisply from close range.

The team captain this weekend, Mark Roche, converted and his high, hanging restart helped Ireland to make it back-to-back tries. Mullins rose highest to tap the ball back, allowing Bryan Mollen to collect it and cleverly cut around to the left side where he cruised over in the corner.

Turnover ball then proved costly for Croatia as Ireland put more pace on the ball, and Mullins fed Mollen to ghost through a gap and complete his brace. Roche nailed the conversion from the left for a 19-0 half-time lead.

Croatia came more into the game, either side of the interval, yet Ireland were able to widen the margin off a loose pass. Keenan was first to it and Comerford passed back inside, sending Mullins away from 40 metres out.

The task grew more difficult for the Croatians, with Matej Buljanovic sin-binned for not releasing the ball after being tackled near his own try-line. Smith used the tap penalty to drive in low and extend the lead to 31-0.

Keenan, another of the replacements, ran back to the left off a scrum in the 12th minute, unleashing Mullins to cause problems for the defence before he offloaded for the two-time Six Nations winner to get on the scoresheet.

Croatia were back to their full complement by the time Keenan had quickly taken a penalty to tee up the seventh and final try. Sean Cribbin used a dummy to slice inside the cover and add the conversion himself.

Ireland returned to the pitch in the evening to face Belgium, the eighth place finishers from the first leg, Lennox led the way, stepping off his left and accelerating through a gap to touch down and convert inside the opening minute.

Those seven points were cancelled out soon after, though, as Smith’s quick tap resulted in a loose pass. Mollen knocked the ball on and the Belgians swooped for as breakaway try, run in by Ryan Godsmark.

Ireland broke up a scrappy spell with a nice set-piece move off a lineout, as Lennox sent Mollen surging clear and took a return pass before setting up Keenan to finish off behind the posts.

Keenan returned the favour just before the break, supplying a flat pass to put Lennox over in the right corner. 19-7 became 26-7 early in the second half, with Connor O’Sullivan crashing in under the posts after some swarming defence and a Zac Ward-won penalty.

With Keenan continuing to get his hand to restart kicks, Ireland upped the pace through Jordan Conroy and Ed Kelly. It was Kelly who unlocked the defence for try number five, neatly sidestepping past one defender and breaking away from a second tackle.

Kelly crossed again in the 12th minute, released out wide by Cribbin’s inviting skip pass to make it 38-7. Before that, O’Sullivan had made sure he was first to a kick through from Keenan as Ireland varied up their attack.

As Belgium sought a late response, Keenan intercepted a pass and sniped back up into the opposition 22 before laying off for the newly-introduced Comerford to get on the scoresheet past the final hooter.

You can watch all the action live from Hamburg on Rugby Europe TV here.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2024 Rugby Europe Men’s Sevens Championship Leg 2 – Hamburg Sevens, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg, Germany, Friday, June 28-Sunday, June 30, 2024):

Niall Comerford (UCD RFC)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Hugo Keenan (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Matthew McDonald (Ireland Sevens)
Bryan Mollen (UCD RFC)
Chay Mullins (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht/IQ Rugby)
Connor O’Sullivan (Lansdowne FC)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC) (capt)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Connacht)
Zac Ward (Ballynahinch RFC)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Schedule – Hamburg Sevens, Rugby Europe Sevens Championship Leg 2:

Friday, June 28 –


IRELAND 43 CROATIA 0, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Niall Comerford, Bryan Mollen 2, Chay Mullins, Andrew Smith, Hugo Keenan, Sean Cribbin; Cons: Mark Roche 2, Sean Cribbin 2
Croatia: –
HT: Ireland 19 Croatia 0

Watch Match Replay

Team: Bryan Mollen, Niall Comerford, Matthew McDonald, Mark Roche (capt), Sean Cribbin, Chay Mullins, Jordan Conroy.

Replacements used: Hugo Keenan, Andrew Smith, Connor O’Sullivan, Ed Kelly, Zac Ward.

IRELAND 43 BELGIUM 7, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hugo Lennox 2, Hugo Keenan, Connor O’Sullivan, Ed Kelly 2, Niall Comerford; Cons: Hugo Lennox 2, Sean Cribbin 2
Belgium: Try: Ryan Godsmark; Con: Ryan Godsmark
HT: Ireland 19 Belgium 7

Watch Match Replay

Team: Zac Ward, Connor O’Sullivan, Andrew Smith, Hugo Lennox, Hugo Keenan, Bryan Mollen, Ed Kelly.

Replacements used: Sean Cribbin, Jordan Conroy, Matthew McDonald, Niall Comerford, Chay Mullins.

Saturday, June 29 –


IRELAND v PORTUGAL, Sportpark Steinwiesenweg, Hamburg, 12.44pm local time/11.44am Irish time


Sunday, June 30 –