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The Ireland Men’s Sevens side suffered a 33-14 defeat to South Africa in their Olympic debut at Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo on Monday morning.
The Pool C match-up was Ireland’s first-ever at the Olympic Games but Anthony Eddy’s side was not granted a fairytale beginning.
The South Africans looked composed in defence and were clinical in attack, forcing Irish errors and pouncing on them.
The Blitzboks lived up to their name by doing so and Ireland found it hard to stop them with their energy and skillset.
Ireland’s top try scorer Jordan Conroy appeared to injure his arm in the opening minute of the game and found it hard to put his stamp on the proceedings in Tokyo Stadium.
The Blitzboks’ Zain Davids opened the scoring with a nice step to put himself in clean air.
It only took four minutes for the South Africans to add a second try after a cross-field kick found Impi Visser who dotted down out wide.
Justin Geduld converted both of the Rio 2016 Bronze medallists first-half tries to give them a 14-0 lead.
Ireland’s Gavin Mullin reeled the Boks back in after exploiting a gap in their defensive line at the end of the first half – an otherwise high-quality blockade.
Billy Dardis added the extra two points to give Ireland some confidence heading into the second-half.
However, a second cross-field exploited space behind the Irish defensive line in their own 22 at the beginning of the second half, with Justin Geduld getting a try and converting it too.
Terry Kennedy burst through the South African defensive line to keep the game within reach for the boys in green with Dardis converting.
However, a controversial try was awarded against Ireland after Chris Dry was judged to have grounded the ball after a TMO check but the replays showed that there may have been a loss of control.
This took the game beyond the Irish with only minutes remaining and some fast feet by Jc Pretorius almost sent the Blitzboks in for a fifth try, which they later got via Stedman Gans.
Justin Geduld missed his final conversion but the result was sealed with victory for South Africa in the opening round.
Ireland will play the USA in their second game in Pool C at 10:30 am.