Paul and Gary O’Donovan have claimed a silver medal for Ireland at the first World Rowing Cup of the year in Italy, while Sanita Puspure grabbed a bronze in the women's single sculls after a sprint finish.

The Skibbereen brothers, who have already qualified for Rio 2016, contested the lightweight men’s double sculls final in Varese.

Recovering from a slow start, which saw them just fourth of six boats after 500 metres, the O’Donovans made a huge move to hit the lead at the halfway point in the 2000m race.

The South African duo of James Thompson and John Smith edged ahead at the 1500m marker and just held of the Irish boat in an exhilarating race all the way to the line.

The South African boat clocked a winning time of six minutes 41.13 seconds, just 0.23 ahead of the O’Donovans.

Belgium’s Tim Brys and Niels van Zandweghe finished third.

Puspure claimed bronze in an incredible sprint finish in the women’s single sculls final.

The 34-year-old finished in a time of 7:51.4, less than two seconds behind the race winner Carling Zeeman of Canada. Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus was second.  

Sixth with 500 metres to go, Puspure put in a blistering finish to earn a second Irish medal at the event.