Canada to face New Zealand in Las Vegas Sevens Cup Semi Finals on Sunday

rugby canada

by Bryan Kelly

January 25, 2014 (ISN) – Canada will take on New Zealand in the Las Vegas Cup semi-finals on Sunday after defeating Wales and then France on a memorable Day Two at Sam Boyd Stadium. In an epic two matches of Sevens rugby, Canada guaranteed a top four finish at their ‘home’ tournament as they booked their first Cup semi in 14 years.

Canada will meet the All Blacks Sevens at 11:54am local (14:54 ET/11:54 PT).

GAME ONE – Canada 21-19 Wales
Line-up: 2 Connor Braid, 3 Nanyak Dala, 4 John Moonlight, 5 Conor Trainor, 7 Phil Mack, 8 Justin Douglas, 11 Harry Jones

Canada put one foot in the Cup quarter-finals on Saturday after fighting back to defeat Wales 21-19 in an absorbing pool clash at the Las Vegas Sevens event. The result left Canada waiting on the South Africa versus Kenya showdown which was scheduled for later in the day, with the squad hoping for a Blitzbokke victory.

It was a tale of two halves at Sam Boyd Stadium as Canada endured a dismal opening seven minutes, going into the break 0-12 adrift of Gareth Williams’ outfit. A try from Adam Thomas down the right wing ended a scoreless opening four minutes, which had seen plenty of physicality and tension in what was a vital match. Wales clearly had their tails up after that and crossed again before the break when Samuel Cross scooted under the posts, capitalizing on slack Canadian midfield defence to make it a twelve-point advantage to the side under a new head coach.

But it was to be words from Canadian boss John and Phil Mack that lifted the ‘home’ team as a switch in fortunes arrived quickly as Nanyak Dala scored a minute into the second stanza. That score came via a fine back door pass from Harry Jones. With ten minutes played, Morgan was then shown a yellow card for throwing the ball away which allowed Canada to build on their momentum, with Mack crossing in quick time before Justin Douglas went over on the right with only a minute left.

Significantly, Douglas’ try was converted by Braid to make it a two-score lead to Canada at 21-12, which meant a late try from Will Thomas saw Wales fall short.

John Moonlight Post Game reaction

John Moonlight was all smiles after the game and was feeling confident the remaining match in the pool would go Canada’s way. “We’ve got to wait for the South Africa vs Kenya game but if South Africa wins things are looking good for us,” said the affable Captain. He agreed that the team was a bit flat in the opening seven minutes but a half-time assessment seemed to solve things.

“We talked at half about support play lacking a little bit,” he said. “Guys were just a little bit late but then we scored some tries (to get the win).”

The other aspect of Canada’s game was its physicality. A number of big tackles left Welsh players crumpled on the floor, and Moonlight says the cumulative affect paid dividends.

“It takes a toll on them every time you hit them,” Moonlight offered. “Nanyak (Dala) was an animal today smashing guys in that game. It’s good to have him on my team that’s for sure.”

GAME TWO (Cup QF) – Canada 17-14 France
Line-up: 2 Connor Braid, 3 Nanyak Dala, 4 John Moonlight, 5 Conor Trainor, 7 Phil Mack, 8 Justin Douglas, 11 Harry Jones

Canada booked their first Cup semi-final since Tokyo, 2000 thanks to a come-from-behind victory over France that sparked mass celebrations at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Having trailed the French by fourteen points following a breakaway try from Julian Jane on two minutes before Julien Candelon slipped through a gap in Canada’s line-out defence, it had looked like being a tough ask for John’s charges to recover. But with real tenacity and pride in the jersey, Canada began to chip away at France, scoring their first of three tries before the interval when Dala’s step and spin on halfway set Braid on his way to the try-line. The unsuccessful extras meant Canada needed two further scores to complete what would be a marvellous comeback win.

They were clearly the team in the ascendancy and with just a minute played in the second-half, Mack’s alertness drew in defenders to allow space to see Braid run in for his second try of the game. Again though, the difficult two points were wide.

It didn’t matter in the end though as the in-form Dala would be the key scorer when he dummied to go in close to the posts for seven points that pushed Canada into the lead for the first time in the match. With three minutes to go, territory and possession were everything and fortunately Canada would not allow the French to deny them a victory that will live long in the memory of Canadian supporters.

Canada’s Men’s Las Vegas Sevens
January 24-26

Day One
Canada 17-15 Kenya
Canada 0-29 South Africa

Day Two
Canada 21-19 Wales
Canada 17-14 France

Day Three
Canada vs. New Zealand at 11:54am local (14:54pm ET/11:54am PT)

Canada’s Roster for Las Vegas – (Club, CRC Team) Hometown, Province

Connor Braid – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC) Abbotsford, BC
Sean Ferguson – (UBC Thunderbird/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Duncan Maguire – (St. Albert Rugby Club/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
Mike Scholz – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Sean White – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Jordan Wilson-Ross – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Alliston, ON

Players Unavailable due to injury:

Sean Duke – (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Mike Fuailefau – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Lucas Hammond – (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Ciaran Hearn – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/The Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
Nathan Hirayama – (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Adam Kleeberger – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/BC Bears) White Rock, BC
Pat Parfrey – (Swilers RFC/The Rock) St. Johns, NL

Senior Men’s Team Staff:

Geraint John – Head Coach
Kieran Crowley – Assistant Coach
Danielle Mah – Physiotherapist
Lorna Barry – Strength and Conditioning Coach
Calum Ramsay – Performance Analyst
Brian Hunter – Manager

Canada’s Men’s Sevens Program is proudly sponsored by Macquarie Financial, Sport Canada and Own the Podium