The Ireland Men’s Sevens team had a comfortable passage through the pool stages of Rugby Europe Men’s Sevens Division B as they chalked up three big wins and scored 27 tries without reply.
Ireland, the recently-crowned Division C champions, accounted for Slovenia (54-0), Bulgaria (64-0) and Austria (57-0) to finish top of Pool B and set up a quarter-final date with Malta, who finished third in Pool A, tomorrow morning.
The other qualifiers for the last-eight are hosts Croatia, who topped Pool A with three wins, Slovakia, Slovenia, Pool C winners Serbia, Norway and Switzerland.
Garryowen and Munster’s Alex Wootton topped the try-scoring charts with five on the opening day, closely followed by Ireland captain Tom Daly (4) and Mark Roche, Diarmaid McCarthy and Shane Layden (3 each).
Harry McNulty and Adam Byrne gobbled up restart after restart as Ireland quickly burst out of the blocks in their pool opener against Slovenia. They ran in four tries for a 28-0 half-time lead, the last of them seeing Daly and Wootton both gain ground in midfield before Byrne was fed on the right and he weaved in between two defenders before a strong hand-off gave him the space to score.
The second half saw Ireland maintain their rate of scoring, the last two tries seeing Roche raid in from the right and then feature in the build-up to a Gearoid Lyons’ effort as the Young Munster clubman used his power and pace to get over from close range.
The pinpoint restart kicking of Daly and Lyons was a consistently strong facet of Ireland’s play, helping to create a number of try-scoring opportunities off first phase ball. Ireland were 19-0 to the good against Bulgaria when skipper Daly produced a big hand-off to cross the whitewash after linking with Byrne from a quick turnover.
The in-form Wootton beat a couple of defenders out wide to add to his try tally and then Daly completed his brace before half-time, hurdling over a despairing defender as the Bulgarians were left trailing 40-0.
Ian Fitzpatrick, Terry Kennedy, David McGuigan, Layden and Aaron Cairns, who was prominent in some of Ireland’s best passing exchanges, all touched down during a one-sided encounter the saw the Bulgarians suffocated when they had possession.
The weather conditions worsened with rain falling for the final matches of the day, but it was business as usual for Ireland as they recorded a 57-0 victory over Austria. Roche dashed through a gap on the left to score inside 30 seconds.
McCarthy went up through the gears to go on the outside of two Austrian players and score from his 22, making it 12-0 early on. The Irish added two more tries before the interval, with the Connacht-capped Layden using his strength to shrug off a tackler along the left touchline and score the opener in the second half.
McCarthy, Layden and Roche all bagged braces as Ireland passed the half-century mark for the third game running. Tougher tests await tomorrow in the knockout stages.
The tournament from Zagreb will be streamed live here throughout the weekend.
Check out www.irishrugby.ie/sevens for all the latest Men’s and Women’s Sevens news.
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Rugby Europe Men’s Division B, Stadion NSC Stjepan Spajic, Zagreb, Croatia, June 20-21):
Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Aaron Cairns (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Tom Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Shane Layden (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Gearoid Lyons (Young Munster/Munster)
Diarmaid McCarthy (Young Munster/Munster)
David McGuigan (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Harry McNulty (UCD/Leinster)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Alex Wootton (Garryowen/Munster)
Rugby Europe Men’s Division B Fixtures/Results –
Saturday, June 20:
Pool B –
Slovenia 0 Ireland 54
Scorers: Slovenia: –
Ireland: Tries: Mark Roche, Alex Wootton 2, Diarmaid McCarthy, Gearoid Lyons, David McGuigan, Tom Daly, Adam Byrne; Cons: Mark Roche, Gearoid Lyons 2, Tom Daly 4
Team: Ian Fitzpatrick, Alex Wootton, Harry McNulty, David McGuigan, Tom Daly (capt), Aaron Cairns, Adam Byrne.
Subs: Mark Roche, Diarmaid McCarthy, Terry, Kennedy, Gearoid Lyons, Shane Layden.
Bulgaria 0 Ireland 64
Scorers: Bulgaria: –
Ireland: Tries: Ian Fitzpatrick, Alex Wootton 2, Terry Kennedy, David McGuigan, Shane Layden, Tom Daly 2, Aaron Cairns, Adam Byrne; Cons: Alex Wootton, Gearoid Lyons 2, Tom Daly 3, Adam Byrne
Team: Alex Wootton, Harry McNulty, Terry Kennedy, Shane Layden, Tom Daly (capt), Aaron Cairns, Adam Byrne.
Subs: Ian Fitzpatrick, Mark Roche, Diarmaid McCarthy, Gearoid Lyons, David McGuigan.
Ireland 57 Austria 0
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Mark Roche 2, Alex Wootton, Diarmaid McCarthy 2, Harry McNulty, Shane Layden 2, Tom Daly; Con: Mark Roche, Gearoid Lyons 5
Team: Ian Fitzpatrick, Mark Roche, Diarmaid McCarthy, Gearoid Lyons, David McGuigan, Tom Daly (capt), Aaron Cairns.
Subs: Alex Wootton, Harry McNulty, Terry Kennedy, Shane Layden, Adam Byrne.
Sunday, June 21:
Cup Quarter-Finals –
Ireland v Malta, 10am local time/9am Irish time
Croatia v Switzerland, 10.22am local time
Serbia v Slovakia, 10.44am local time
Norway v Slovenia, 11.06am local time