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Irish, British, French and Spaniards surprise in LA Sevens semis

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Jordan Conroy scored two second-half tries to spark Ireland’s fightback for a 24-14 upset of Argentina on Saturday to reach the semi-finals of the World Rugby SVNS Series at Los Angeles.

On a day when unbeaten pool winners Australia, Fiji and Argentina were all ousted, the South American squad was denied a fourth consecutive title after triumphs in Cape Town, Perth and Vancouver.

Ireland will play France in one semi-final after the French ousted host United States while Spain meets Great Britain in Sunday’s other semi-final after two more stunners.

The Irish, down 14-5 at halftime, got Conroy tries in the 10th and 14th minutes around a Mark Roche try in the 12th minute after yellow cards on Argentina’s Rodrigo Isgro in the ninth minute and Matias Osadczuk in the 10th set the stage for the rally.

Spain continued the upset trend by ousting Fiji 21-19. The Spaniards rallied after a 10th-minute red card to Fiji’s Terio Tamani to defeat the Pool C winners.

A penalty try and two tries from Pol Pla with conversions from Juan Ramos spelled disaster for Fiji.

Great Britain completed the sweep out of unbeatens from pool play by defeating Australia 26-19, the final try from Femi Sofolarin in the 17th minute being the match decider.

France eliminated the Americans 14-0 on tries by Antoine Dupont in the second minute and Andy Timo in the seventh.

France’s Antoine Dupont carries the ball for a try past USA’s Steve Tomasin during the 2024 HSBC Rugby Sevens LA tournament match between USA and France at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California on March 2, 2024. PHOTO: AFP

Former World Rugby Player of the Year Dupont, France’s 15-a-side captain and scrum-half, says his switch to sevens in a bid to compete for Paris Olympic gold later this year is progressing well.

“Every time I’m on the pitch I improve,” said Dupont, who helped France to third in his debut last week at Vancouver. “I don’t do daily check-ups to know where I’m at. I’m still learning.

“Every time I’m on the pitch I’m analysing by talking to the guys. I’m still getting to grips with the sport. So far it’s not going too badly.”

Argentina captured the Pool A title by beating South Africa 17-5, boosted by two tries from Luciano Gonzalez, and defeating Ireland 26-14.

Australia captured Pool B with a 17-12 victory over the USA and a 28-19 triumph over Samoa. Henry Palmer scored one try against the Americans and two in the group clincher.

Fiji advanced from Pool C by routing Canada 40-0 and edging France 14-10, the French also advancing to the last eight after defeating Great Britain 19-12.