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The Ireland men’s national sevens team fought their way to a fourth-place finish at the Vancouver Sevens – the first leg of the curtailed 2021 World Rugby Sevens series.
The side fell short of a spot in the final after topping their pool after an unbeaten first day but achieve their highest-ever finish at a World Series event as a core team.
Nine players made their debuts for the national sevens side throughout the weekend as the rotated squad impressed in the Canadian city, coming into the tournament with just 22 caps to their name altogether.
Munster Academy winger Conor Phillips caught the eye with four tries, while Liam Turner, Mark Roche, Sean Kearns, Gavin Mullin and Shane Jennings all scored two each.
Ulster academy winger Ben Moxham also grabbed one in his first tournament with the side, scoring in extra-time in the quarter-final against Hong Kong to ensure a spot in the semi-final.
The team, coached by James Topping for the week, won twice and drew once on the first day before the experience of Kenya and Great Britain proved to be too much in the latter stages.
Ireland scored 74 points on the first day, including a 50-0 thumping of Jamaica, but injuries hampered their second day as they fell short of a spot in the top three.
A one-sided defeat to Kenya made clear the difference between the two squads and Great Britain made up for a lacklustre performance in the pool stage with a 24-14 win over Topping’s side in the bronze final.
However, Ireland can take positives from the tournament as they head into the World Series finale in Edmonton on a high.
Ireland Sevens Squad – Vancouver 7s
Niall Comerford (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Chris Cosgrave (UCD RFC/Leinster)
Sean Cribbin (Suttonians RFC)
Shane Jennings (Buccaneers RFC/Connacht)
Sean Kearns (Ireland Sevens)
Ed Kelly (Dublin University FC)
Steven Kilgallen (UCD RFC)
Bryan Mollen (Blackrock College) (capt)
Ben Moxham (Ballymena RFC/Ulster)
Gavin Mullin (UCD RFC)
Conor Phillips (Young Munster RFC/Munster)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC)
Liam Turner (Dublin University FC/Leinster)