Connacht and Munster have battled their way through to the Cup quarter-finals of the Limerick World Club Se7ens.
Connacht beat Ulster 36-10 in their opener at Thomond Park yesterday and although a 19-10 loss to Buenos Aires followed, the men from Galway responded to beat South African side Golden Lions 21-19 – finishing second in Pool C and sealing a quarter-final place.
Connacht captain Shane Layden notched a first-half try double in that contest but it was only a last-gasp missed conversion after the Connacht defence forced Golden Lions to score in the corner as opposed to under the posts that sealed the victory.
And Layden, who left the Connacht XVs set-up in May to focus on 7s with Ireland, insists they shouldn’t be underestimated today.
“We are delighted to be in the mix,” said the 22-year-old. “We’ll set our goals for that, we’re seeded fifth so we’ll take whatever comes.
“We have a young squad but a bit of experience as well. It’s massive to playing in a quarter-final.
Munster also progressed as one of the best third-placed sides in the pool stages.
The hosts started slowly in Pool B, losing 19-17 to group winners Canadian Maples but drew 19-19 with fellow qualifiers Samurai before holding off San Francisco Golden Gate 28-22.
And Steve McMahon is confident they are coming to the boil are the right time.
“It certainly seemed like we were making it hard for ourselves,” explained the winger.
“But most of the guys here, this was our first chance of playing 7s.
“We come from a union background, it’s a bit faster than what we’re used to. We took a bit of time to get up to speed in our first game but we were better in the second and we finished off nicely in the third.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to close out games a bit better in the knock-outs.”
Last year’s champions Daveta looked imperious as they won all three games in Pool A, including a 17-5 win over impressive New York, who also qualified.
Leinster won their final game of the day 19-17 over Stade Francais but their third-placed finish was only good enough to reach the Shield following two earlier defeats.
Ulster followed up their defeat to Connacht with a 28-12 loss at the hands of Golden Lions before a second-half comeback fell short against Buenos Aires, losing 24-19.
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