Ireland sevens fell to a 33-24 defeat to Fiji in a remarkable Cup Quarter Final at the London 7s in Twickenham this afternoon.
Ireland’s victories over England and Scotland yesterday saw Anthony Eddy’s side secure a spot in the top-eight but they faced a massive task when drawn with Olympic champions Fiji.
However, despite competing in this competition as an invitational side, Ireland showed why they are going to be such a threat on the series next season by producing an excellent performance.
Ireland got off to a flying start when they won possession from their own kick-off, Harry McNulty drew in the last defender before releasing Mick McGrath who powered down the touchline to get Ireland’s first try of the game.
McGrath then made it two tries for Ireland when they won a penalty as Mark Roche floated a superb pass into space as McGrath burst through to touch down.
Roche converted to give Ireland a 12-0 lead.
Fiji finally got their hands on the ball from the restart and their offloading game saw Meli Derenalagi go over to get his side back into the game.
A superb counter-attack from Fiji saw them retake the lead when Aminiasi Tuimaba crossed for his side’s second try. Ireland were in a promising position but they got isolated and the Fijians managed to turn over the ball at the breakdown and the resulting blistering counter-attack saw Tuimaba eventually cross the line after some excellent passing.
It was a case of circumstances repeating themselves as just before halftime, Fiji showed their ruthlessness by winning the ball at the breakdown in their own 22 before Jerry Tuwai spotted a gap and ran the length of the field to give his side a 21-12 lead at halftime.
It was 28-12 just seconds into the second half as Fiji slapped back their own kick-off which saw Vilimoni Botitu sprint through a gaping hole in the Irish defence to dot down under the posts.
Jordon Conroy gave Ireland some hope of a comeback when he beat his man for pace on the outside but Billy Dardis missed the conversion so Ireland had 11 points to make up with time running out.
Remarkably, Ireland made it a four-point margin when Bryan Mollen produced a stunning over the head pass to Ian Fitzpatrick who was able to cross under the posts.
— Seán McMahon (@Sean_McMahon89) May 26, 2019
Ireland’s comeback just fell short when Dardis was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on. It was certainly a case of fine margins for Dardis because if he managed to hold on to the interception attempt, his side would have likely have scored and taken the lead with just seconds remaining.
Down to six men, Ireland could do nothing as Fiji ran in their final try to win out on a final scoreline of 33-24.
Ireland will now face Canada in the fifth-place playoff later today.