Jordan Conroy scored six tries for the Ireland 7s team.

A late try from eventual champions Russia denied Ireland a second successive Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series Cup final appearance, as Anthony Eddy’s side finished third of the 12 teams at the Lodz 7s tournament last weekend.

Like the previous weekend in Moscow where Ireland were crowned champions, they won five of their six matches in Lodz but a frustrating 26-19 Cup semi-final defeat to Russia left them with only third place to aim for.

They duly secured the bronze medals thanks to a runaway 35-5 play-off win over Wales, which keeps them on course to qualify for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in San Francisco. There are qualifying places for the top two finishers in the Grand Prix Series, and at the halfway stage, there is a intriguing three-way battle at the summit with Ireland, Spain and Russia locked together on 36 points each.

Anthony Eddy’s charges picked up 16 series points in Poland, with Russia claiming the full 20 thanks to a hard-fought 24-19 final success against Spain who matched their runners-up finish in Moscow for an 18-point haul.

Buccaneers winger Jordan Conroy had an excellent tournament, scoring in each game for an impressive six-try tally. Terry Kennedy and John O’Donnell bagged three tries each as Ireland topped the charts in Lodz with the most potent attack (153 points/23 tries scored) and the most miserly defence (58 points/10 tries conceded).

It gives the Ireland Men’s Sevens programme, which is also trying to earn a spot at next season’s World Sevens Series Repechage in Hong Kong, plenty to build on as they face into the penultimate leg of the Grand Prix Series in Clermont-Ferrand (July 1-2), before the final stage in Exeter two weeks later – July 15-16.

Ireland were down a player for the concluding day in Lodz, losing Fionn Carr to injury. In bright morning sunshine at Miejski Stadium, their Cup quarter-final saw them come up against a young England side who are looking to add further depth to the squad following the recent conclusion of the World Sevens Series.

Play was condensed in and around the English 22 for almost the entire first half. Kennedy made good ground on the right before Harry McNulty’s long pass out to the left gave Conroy just enough time and space to squeeze over for a third-minute unconverted try.

Nick Timoney’s powerful charge from halfway had England under pressure again, before turnover ball from a scrum in the English 22 saw Kennedy break to the right and evade two defenders to dot down in the corner. Captain Billy Dardis converted, with the aid of the left hand post, for a 12-0 half-time lead.

Two minutes after the restart, England were back within a converted score thanks to their best attacking spell and a Callum Sirker five-pointer in the right corner. However, Ireland prevailed 19-5 thanks to a clinching third try. Quick hands on the blindside from McNulty and Kennedy, who had started the attack with a poach at the breakdown, led to a neat finish from Timoney.

Russia were Ireland’s Cup semi-final opponents for the second week running and this time the Russians got the head-start with Vladimir Lazarenko taking advantage of Timoney’s missed tackle to open the scoring, while Roman Roshchin made it 14-0 after juggling possession from a scrum and slicing through a gap.

Ireland were making some uncharacteristic errors but they immediately cancelled out Roshchin’s effort, tidying up scrappy ball from the restart and unleashing Conroy on the left, the Tullamore speedster outpacing two covering players for a fine individual try converted by Dardis.

The men in green could not profit from a Timoney steal at a ruck as well as a late lineout opportunity before the interval, but they were back level inside the opening minute of the second half when nice footwork from O’Donnell took him over the line after an initial break from deep by McNulty.

Great work from McNulty and Mick McGrath secured possession from the restart and Conroy then turned provider, weaving in off the right wing and evading the clutches of four Russians before feeding Kennedy for a comfortable finish.

Dardis narrowly missed the conversion at 19-14 and Russia showed their class by overhauling Ireland in a dramatic and tense finish. A marginal breakdown call went their way, providing the platform for Roshchin’s second score, and luck was on their side when a crooked lineout went unpunished, setting up a late onslaught on the Irish line where captain Vladimir Ostroushko struck for the match winner – 26-19.

Returning to the pitch for a Celtic derby in the 3rd-4th place play-off, Ireland were the aggressors early on against Wales, Conroy stretching his legs up the right wing and Timoney and McNulty almost combining to free up O’Donnell for a try on the opposite flank. The deadlock was broken midway through the half when Hugo Keenan darted through a gap to raid in from the left with Mark Roche converting.

Roche turned try scorer to make it 14-0, spotting his opportunity to attack the blindside of a ruck and he had the pace to run in Ireland’s second seven-pointer. But Wales pulled it back to a nine-point deficit with a late Joe Jenkins try.

Into the second half, Wales forced the issue but had nothing to show for their possession and territory. A brilliant breakaway try from Keenan, who backed himself from close to his own try-line, put the result beyond doubt with only a couple of minutes remaining.

Dardis converted and also tagged on the extras to two further tries as Ireland added some late gloss and ran out 30-point winners. Kennedy’s hard running set up Conroy to expertly glide in between two defenders and cross by the posts, while a loose Welsh offload was seized upon by skipper Dardis who sped clear from inside his own half.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2017 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series – Round 2, Miejski Stadium, Lodz, Poland, Saturday, June 10-Sunday, June 11):

Fionn Carr (Naas)

Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)

Billy Dardis (UCD) (capt)

Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster)

Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)

Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)

Mick McGrath (Clontarf)

Harry McNulty (UCD)

John O’Donnell (Lansdowne)

Greg O’Shea (Shannon/Munster)

Mark Roche (Lansdowne)

Nick Timoney (Queen’s University/Ulster)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Results –

Saturday, June 10 – Pool A:

Ireland 28 Poland 10, Miejski Stadium

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Billy Dardis, John O’Donnell, Nick Timoney; Cons: Billy Dardis 3, Mark Roche

Team: Mick McGrath, Harry McNulty, John O’Donnell, Hugo Keenan, Jordan Conroy, Fionn Carr, Billy Dardis (capt).

Subs: Nick Timoney, Ian Fitzpatrick, Terry Kennedy, Greg O’Shea, Mark Roche.

Ireland 26 Germany 7, Miejski Stadium

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Harry McNulty, Fionn Carr, John O’Donnell; Cons: Billy Dardis 3

Team: Nick Timoney, Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, Hugo Keenan, Jordan Conroy, Fionn Carr, Billy Dardis (capt).

Subs: Mick McGrath, John O’Donnell, Terry Kennedy, Greg O’Shea, Mark Roche.

Ireland 26 Portugal 5, Miejski Stadium

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Terry Kennedy, Greg O’Shea 2, Jordan Conroy; Cons: Mark Roche 3

Team: Mick McGrath, Harry McNulty (capt), Ian Fitzpatrick, Greg O’Shea, Fionn Carr, Terry Kennedy, Mark Roche.

Subs: Nick Timoney, Hugo Keenan, John O’Donnell, Jordan Conroy, Billy Dardis.

Sunday, June 11:

Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland 19 England 5, Miejski Stadium

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Nick Timoney; Cons: Billy Dardis 2

Team: Nick Timoney, Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, Hugo Keenan, Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Billy Dardis (capt).

Subs: Mick McGrath, John O’Donnell, Greg O’Shea, Mark Roche.

Cup Semi-Final: Ireland 19 Russia 26, Miejski Stadium

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Jordan Conroy, John O’Donnell, Terry Kennedy; Cons: Billy Dardis 2

Team: Nick Timoney, Harry McNulty, Ian Fitzpatrick, Hugo Keenan, Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy, Billy Dardis (capt).

Subs: Mick McGrath, John O’Donnell, Greg O’Shea, Mark Roche.

3rd-4th Place Play-Off: Ireland 35 Wales 5, Miejski Stadium

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Hugo Keenan 2, Mark Roche, Jordan Conroy, Billy Dardis; Cons: Mark Roche 2, Billy Dardis 3

Team: Nick Timoney, Harry McNulty (capt), Hugo Keenan, John O’Donnell, Jordan Conroy, Greg O’Shea, Mark Roche.

Subs: Mick McGrath, Ian Fitzpatrick, Terry Kennedy, Billy Dardis.

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