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Jordan Conroy scored in the final but there was heartbreak for Ireland. Martin Seras Lima/INPHO
So Close

Heartbreak for Ireland 7s as they agonisingly miss out on first-ever Series final

New Zealand struck with the clock in the red to deny James Topping’s side.

LAST UPDATE | Apr 10th 2022, 12:26 PM

THE IRELAND MEN’S 7s team suffered late, late heartbreak in their bid to reach their first-ever final on the World Series as New Zealand pipped them in a thrilling semi-final in Singapore.

Ireland led 19-17 in the closing stages but the Kiwis conjured a winning score with the clock a full minute into the red to leave captain Billy Dardis and co. dejected.

Instead of advancing into their maiden Cup final against Fiji, the James Topping-coached Irish moved on to the third-place play-off where they were beaten 21-19 by Australia in another tough defeat.

Ireland had started their semi-final against New Zealand superbly, with the in-form Jordan Conroy showing his pace to finish after being fed by Terry Kennedy down the left. Dardis’ conversion was excellent for a 7-0 lead

A breakdown turnover by Leinster’s Andrew Smith soon gave Ireland another attacking chance but their first error allowed the Kiwis to counter clinically as Regan Ware scored after a classy offload by Andrew Knewstubb to draw them back to 7-5 at the break.

New Zealand scored again early in the second half via Dylan Collier to move 12-7 ahead but Ireland responded strongly as Conroy offloaded and Gavin Mullin carried strongly before Kennedy darted over to level the game at 12-12.

Mullin then finished a superb team score as Ireland held possession for a long period and Mark Roche’s sharp conversion had them 19-12 in front with the clock ticking towards the final whistle.

But New Zealand held their composure to score down the right-hand side thanks to Trael Joass. The conversion was missed, meaning Ireland just had to claim the Kiwi restart and kick the ball off the pitch.

However, Collier superbly regained the restart and the Kiwis attacked, only for Ireland to regather a loose ball on the ground. The high tension continued though as New Zealand instantly won a breakdown turnover to give themselves one final chance.

With the clock in the red and Ireland slipping off a few tackles, Akuila Rokolisoa broke through for the winning score to send New Zealand into the final against Fiji.

Ireland were so close to another historic victory, having beaten Fiji for the first time ever on the World Series in yesterday’s pool stages.

Earlier today, Ireland overcame the US in their quarter-final clash as Topping sprung a few selection surprises by handing starts to the likes of Chay Mullins, Tamilore Awonusi, and Steve Kilgallen, while using key men such as captain Dardis, Conroy, and Jack Kelly off the bench. The selection was vindicated by a 14-12 win.

Hugo Lennox scored an early try and converted it himself before the Americans dotted down twice through Lucas Lacamp and the prolific Terry Baker to race into a 12-7 lead.

But Ireland found a winning score in the 10th minute as Mullin fed the flying Conroy in space just inside his own half and he sprinted clear to score, allowing Dardis to slot an excellent winning conversion from out on the left.

Ireland finished the weekend in fourth spot after being beaten by Australia in the Bronze final. Lennox, Mullin and Smith scored tries, with Mark Roche adding two conversions, but the Aussies clung on to clinch third place.

Topping’s men will have to wait until next weekend’s Series leg in Vancouver for another chance to reach their first final.

Ireland 7s squad:

Tamilore Awonusi (IQ Rugby)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
Billy Dardis (Terenure College RFC) (captain)
Jack Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College RFC)
Steven Kilgallen (UCD RFC)
Hugo Lennox (Skerries RFC)
Matt McDonald (IQ Rugby)
Harry McNulty (UCD RFC)
Gavin Mullin (UCD RFC)
Chay Mullins (IQ Rugby)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Andrew Smith (Clontarf FC/Leinster)

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