Canada claimed two wins on day one at the Gold Coast Sevens

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October 12, 2013 (ISN) – Canada claimed two wins from three on Day One at the Gold Coast Sevens, with impressive victories over Wales and Portugal following an opening defeat to Fiji.

In a day that saw Nathan Hirayama suffer an ankle injury, the squad regrouped and made their Series captain proud as they bounced back with real spirit in Australia.

However, Canada were unfortunate not to make the Cup quarter-finals as Wales beat Fiji in the Pool’s final fixture. That means it is Bowl action for the Canadians tomorrow against Spain, kicking-off at 10:52 local time (8:58pm ET/5:58pm PT).

Canada 10-20 Fiji

Line-up: 3 Nanyak Dala, 4 John Moonlight, 5 Justin Douglas, 7 Lucas Hammond, 9 Nathan Hirayama, 10 Ciaran Hearn, 11 Harry Jones

Canada can hold their heads up high after this performance as the youthful and somewhat new-look squad pushed Fiji all the way in their Gold Coast opener.

Fiji, who won this tournament in 2011 and 2012, are looking for the hat-trick in Australia and began the game sprightly, scoring after just two minutes through Waisea Nacuqu. Ilai Tinai missed the resulting conversion as the islanders’ classy runners showed they were in the mood to show their silkiness at Skilled Park.

Tinai was next to score when he stood up Ciaran Hearn before stretching his legs and gliding over the line from distance to make it 0-10 mid-way through the half.

Canada needed a foothold and deservedly got one with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first period when a lovely interchange saw Nanyak Dala involved before Harry Jones scooted over on the right to cut the lead to five points, which was how it remained going into the huddle alongside head coach Geraint John.

The second-half unfortunately got off to a bad start for Canada as Tinai went in for a brace on the wing following a nice offload from replacement Benito Masilevu.

And then came a cruel blow to John’s men as captain Nathan Hirayama was helped from the Gold Coast field by his team-mates after falling awkwardly in a tackle.

Fiji compounded that injury when Tinai went on a long-range run for the try-line with Lucas Hammond in pursuit. But the Fijian would win the race and scored his third try before consolation was found at the death via impressive youngster Hammond, who finished off a superb team try that builds Canadian confidence.

Canada 19-14 Wales

Line-up: 2 Connor Braid, 3 Nanyak Dala, 4 John Moonlight, 5 Justin Douglas, 7 Lucas Hammond, 10 Ciaran Hearn, 11 Harry Jones

Canada picked up their first win over Wales since March 2011 after an inspired performance helped them overcome their European opponents at Skilled Park.

Two tries from John Moonlight and one solo Justin Douglas effort helped secure victory that keeps alive their hopes of progressing into the Cup competition.

It was a fitting tribute to wounded captain and playmaker Hirayama, who suffered an ankle injury during the team’s opening game against Fiji earlier in the day.

But Wales did not help themselves in the opening passage as Rhys Shellard was shown yellow for throwing the ball away after a team-mate had offended at a ruck.

Canada capitalized on their numerical advantage and a spell of sustained pressure led to the deceptively quick Moonlight breaking through the midfield for a score.

Moonlight’s try was easily converted by Connor Braid to put Canada 7-0 ahead before the big forward struck again, this time on the left after Dala sent him over. Despite being unsuccessful with the difficult conversion, the Canadians could feel extremely happy with their high-tempo opening-half efforts at the turnaround.

But they weren’t done there as the confidence of youth saw Douglas return from the interval backing himself to go round the Welsh defense, which he did superbly to make it 19-0 with five minutes remaining of the game. That try was ultimately key.

Wales did hit back soon after through James Davies’ strong run down the right wing and when Chris Knight finished off a team breakout from Wales’ own whitewash to reduce matters to 19-14, the tension was building at Skilled Park as time ticked on.

But Canada held on for a priceless victory that Dala said was for his injured captain.

Canada 24-17 Portugal

Line-up: 2 Connor Braid, 3 Nanyak Dala, 4 John Moonlight, 5 Justin Douglas, 7 Lucas Hammond, 10 Ciaran Hearn, 11 Harry Jones

Canada ended Day One by securing their second win of the group stages, defeating Portugal in a result that had given them real hope of qualifying for the Cup action. Unfortunately results elsewhere meant the Bowl was their ultimate destination.

Once more it was a team effort highlighted by a collective spirit following the injury to Hirayama, with Moonlight and Douglas adding to their Gold Coast try tally.

Moonlight is now up to four scores for the tournament as Canada, wearing their white jersey for the game, saw the forward race over from 50 meters after Dala had made the early inroads. Braid landed the simple conversion which put the Canadians on their way with barely a minute passed on the matchday clock.

It was all Canada but when Portugal’s Francisco Almeida pounced on turnover ball before strolling over to score from long-range, suddenly the game was tied up.

That would not last long as Hearn would in turn catch Portugal napping soon after, with the Europeans thinking they had the Castaway Wanderer contained before he broke free to race 60 metres for the try-line. Braid was again on target so Canada held a 14-7 lead with a minute left in the half, boosted by Carl Murray being shown yellow for a deliberate knock down. Moonlight then punished the now sin-binned Murray further with his second five-pointer of the game wide on the left.

At 19-7 going into the second-half, Canada held a vital two score cushion and after three minutes that would become three when youngster Douglas scored a carbon copy of his try against Wales, with another solo effort illustrating his pace. His smile was reciprocated with the Canadian supporters’ as the advantage grew further.

Luckily, a late two-try Portuguese surge would not lead to a last-ditch change of result as Canada held on, with Moonlight fittingly kicking the ball out at the end.

Day One

  • Canada 10-20 Fiji
  • Canada 19-14 Wales
  • Canada 24-17 Portugal

Day Two

  • Canada v Spain – Bowl QF – 10:52 local time (8:58pm ET/5:58pm PT).
  • Canada’s Roster for Gold Coast Sevens – (Club, CRC Team) Hometown, Province
  • Connor Braid – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
  • Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
  • Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC) Abbotsford, BC
  • Sean Ferguson – (UBC Thunderbirds/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
  • Mike Fuailefau – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
  • Lucas Hammond – (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
  • Ciaran Hearn – (Castaway Wanderers/The Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
  • Nathan Hirayama, Captain – (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
  • Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
  • Pat Kay – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Duncan, BC
  • John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
  • Pat Parfrey – (Swilers RFC/The Rock) St. Johns, NL

Senior Men’s Team Staff:

  • Geraint John – Head Coach
  • Isabel Grondin – Therapist
  • Lorna Barry – Strength and Conditioning Coach
  • Brian Hunter – Manager

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