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Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 4°C
# Captain Fantastic
Dardis to the rescue for Ireland as late O'Brien try delivers win over Chile
A thundering run from Pedro Verschae threatened to derail Ireland’s World Cup campaign.

BILLY DARDIS PLAYED a true captain’s role as Ireland overcame a scare to scrape past Chile 17-12 and into the Sevens World Cup last 16.

Jimmy O’Brien’s try with seconds remaining ensured Ireland will face South Africa next up this morning, but the tie was almost tipped Chile’s way before Dardis flung himself into a try-saving tackle.

The boys in green got off to the worst possible start in their World Cup campaign as they failed to deal with the kick-off and the South Americans took an early lead through Pedro Verschae – more from him to come.

Ireland quickly wrestled control back and hit back immediately with Hugo Keenan stepping hard off his right foot to power over the line. And on the next wave, captain Dardis showed even more sparkle off the boots as he danced through a gap to give Ireland their 12-7 half-time advantage.

Ireland’s Billy Dardis Inpho / Billy Stickland Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

Having dominated the middle six minutes of the first seven, Ireland found themselves scrambling before the break as Chile hacked the ball into space in front of the posts.

Fortunately for Ireland, the man in pursuit was Jordan Conroy, and he comfortably won the footrace to tidy up. However, after the break the Buccaneers speedster wasn’t quite as airtight, as Francisco Metuaze fended him off and powered away down Ireland’s left flank to level the match up.

With Irish breakdown efforts falling foul of officials, Chile had possession as the contest entered its final two minutes.

At the home of the San Francisco Giants, the big man Verschae gave Ireland a heart-stopping scare as he broke clear down the right with 90 seconds remaining. Dardis closed him down on the angle and forced him to choose contact rather than a race. He squared and bumped off the ex-Newbridge College playmaker, but the impact from the skipper was enough to unbalance him and bring a foot in touch.

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Ireland’s Jimmy O'Brien scores the winning try Inpho / Billy Stickland O'Brien dots down the winner. Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

Having stared down the barrel of a run in the third-tier Bowl tournament, Ireland swept down the other end, working through the hands and stretching Chile left to right until Terry Kennedy floored a defender with sheer footwork and then sent Jimmy O’Brien over for the match-winning try.

17-12, a close run thing, but enough to leave Ireland with a sense of momentum as they size up South Africa in a clash set for 05.15 this morning.

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