This weekend, the Rugby Canada sevens squad touched down in Wellington, New Zealand for the wet and wild fifth stop in the HSBC 7s World Series.
Looking to build on their surprise third place finish two weeks ago in Las Vegas, day one saw the Canadian side go undeafted and score a second straight quarter final berth.
GM 1) Canada 17 – 14 Scotland
GM 2) Canada 29 – 12 USA
GM 3) Canada 24 – 5 Argentina
Quarter Final) Canada 0 – 24 New Zealand
Canada met New Zealand in the quarter final for their first in a string of unlucky events. Down 12-0 at half time, Canada was unable to recover and were simply over powered by the hometown All Blacks.
Plate Semi Final) Canada 27 – 0 Samoa
Canada put the wood to perennial contender Samoa in the plate semi final. No way around it. Two tries in the opening four minutes from rising star Johnny Moonlight (@jmoonlight12) opened the scoring, and the boys in red didn’t look back for the rest of the match. Samoa wasn’t able to get anything going as Canada successfully kept Samoa in their own end for the entire first half, allowing them only one trip in the entire game. The win improves Canada’s record against the Samoans 5 – 31 lifetime.
Plate Final) Canada 10 – 12 Australia
In the plate final Canada faced off against Australia for the first time since 2012, and came out very strong in the first half. Sean Duke (@SeanDukelow) scored two tries including his second which came off a greasy sideline offload by Moonlight.
Canada appeared to be in full control, keeping the Wallabies out of their end well into the second half. Unfortunately, the tide turned at the four minute mark of the second frame with Australia finally getting on the board. Strong line defence and a strip ball tackle from Nanyak Dala (@yakbutt) were unable to stop the Wallaby surge. In the final seconds, Australia tied the game with a try off a penalty set piece and put home the winning conversion at the death. A game Canada absolutely deserved to win.
All in all, this is a Canadian squad on the rise in international sevens rugby. New development strategies at Rugby Canada headquarters on Vancouver Island have already started to show a marked improvement in this group of players ahead of Brazil 2016. With the exception of New Zealand and South Africa, the one and two ranked teams, Canada has played shot for shot with the rest of the field, and their success in Wellington and especially Las Vegas are a testament to this.
With a sixth place finish and 12 total points, Canada climbs to ninth place with 43 points through five of nine rounds of this years Sevens World Series. Canada has had impressive victories over higher ranked teams and have made serious gains up the table. It will be interesting to see how the championship ends up, hopefully the six week break before the next rounds gives a much needed rest to Captain Nate Hirayama (@NHirayama10), leading scorer Duke and other banged up Canucks. A strong finish to this series could be the break out of a top five team next year and possibly a medal contender in Brazil 2016.
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