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Ireland fall short after pushing New Zealand all the way in Sevens World Cup semi-final

Elsewhere, the Ireland women delivered an impressive performance against England to secure a seventh-place finish.

Ireland's Andrew Smith and New Zealand's Akuila Rokolisoa.
Ireland's Andrew Smith and New Zealand's Akuila Rokolisoa.
Image: Travis Prior/INPHO

Updated Sep 11th 2022, 5:20 PM

THE IRELAND MEN’S Sevens team pushed New Zealand all the way — but ultimately fell to a heartbreaking 17-10 semi-final defeat at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in South Africa.

Three tries from Ngarohi McGarvey Black kept the champions’ three in-a-row bid alive as they brought their record against Ireland to 10-0 at the Cape Town Stadium.

Tries either side of half time from Jack Kelly and Andrew Smith gave Ireland hope of capitalising on their famous quarter-final win over the hosts last night, but the All Blacks showed their class in eking out the result.

Ireland now face Australia in the bronze final at 6.25pm [live on RTÉ Player]. Fiji advance to the decider.

Meanwhile Ireland’s women concluded their Rugby World Cup Sevens campaign on a high with an impressive win over England in the 7/8 place play-off.

Aiden McNulty’s side triumphed on a scoreline of 26-10 at the Cape Town Stadium, an Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe double and another from Megan Burns securing a seventh-place finish.

England started brightest, with Megan Jones scoring very early on, before Stacey Flood hit back at the other end in the fourth minute. There would be two more tries before half time, courtesy of Ellie Boatman and Murphy Crowe respectively.

Captain Lucy Mulhall added both Ireland extras — her link-up with the electric Murphy Crowe on another level — while England failed to convert, meaning it was 14-10 at the break.

Ireland struck right at the death of the first half, and exploded to life from there. McNulty’s crew picked up where they left off on the restart with Eve Higgin’s immense work inspiring.

Megan Burns dotted down after superb work from Murphy-Crowe, before the provider turned scorer once more, showing a clean pair of wheels to seal the victory. Mulhall missed the first conversion of the second period, but scored the second, rounding off a good evening’s work.

It came after a disappointing 24-0 defeat to Fiji in the 5/8 place play-offs this morning, after New Zealand ended their title aspirations yesterday.

First-half tries from Adi Vani Buleki and Reapi Ulunisau — the second converted by Lavenia Cavuru — had Fiji in the driving seat by half time, 12-0 up at the break.

In truth, it was an error-ridden performance from Ireland as they played tight time and time again, and Fiji pounced on their mistakes. Captain Raijieli Daveua was next with her name on the scoreboard with a breakaway try, before Ulunisau ran in another after an interception. Again, Cavuru converted one of two.

Earlier on Sunday, New Zealand enjoyed the dream start against Ireland’s men, with the electric McGarvey Black running in two early tries. Neither were converted, but they looked in fine fettle otherwise.

Ireland had some bright patches, and roared on by the crowd, pulled one back through Jack Kelly after an excellent team move. Mark Roche went close with the conversion, but the half ended 10-5. Just beforehand, Moses Leo saw yellow for taking Terry Kennedy out amidst a try-scoring opportunity.

It was a stop-start second half with plenty of penalties, Ireland struggling to garner any real momentum as their opponents’ physicality shone through down the home straight.

It was Ireland who had the perfect start to the second half; Andrew Smith levelling matters with seconds on the clock after good work from Harry McNulty.

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Ireland thrived off the set-piece, but the next score was crucial. Bryan Mollen brilliantly stopped one — the TMO sending NZ to a 5m scrum after a knock-on — before McGarvey Black grabbed the winner on 13 minutes. 

brittany-hogan-cheers-ahead-of-the-game Ireland fell to a disappointing 24-0 defeat to Fiji in the 5/8 place play-off. Source: Travis Prior/INPHO

Kurt Baker added the extras to make it 17-10, and that’s how it finished as New Zealand became the first team to make three consecutive World Cup Sevens finals.

“It was a big semi-final, we knew we had a tough opponent,” Jordan Conroy said afterwards. “All we wanted to do was to play our game and bring it up a level from last night’s match.

“Unfortunately, the result didn’t go our way. It was a close match but that’s how the game goes sometimes, it is just small margins. 

“The energy last night was just out of this world and just trying to replicate that was a little bit tough, playing so late and then getting up early. But that’s not really an excuse, that’s why teams are in the final.

“They just get on with it and bring it up a step further. I feel like we, as a team, are nearly there so, yeah, it’s just up from here.” 

  • Results and fixtures available here >

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