Canada men finish day one of Wellington Sevens with perfect 3-0 record

rugby canada

by Bryan Kelly

February 7, 2014, WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (ISN) – Canada got their Sevens Wellington campaign off to a perfect start on Day One as they beat Scotland 17-14, USA 29-12 and Argentina 24-5 to finish top of the pool.

Canada will face New Zealand or France in tomorrow’s Cup QF at 20:55 ET/17:55 PT.

Game One: Canada 17-14 Scotland

Line-up: 2 Connor Braid, 3 Nanyak Dala, 4 John Moonlight, 5 Conor Trainor, 7 Philip Mack, 8 Justin Douglas, 11 Harry Jones

Canada carried on from where they had left off in Las Vegas as they overcame Scotland 17-14 thanks to a professional performance both in attack and defence. Returning players Nathan Hirayama, Sean Duke, Ciaran Hearn and Lucas Hammond were all handed bench spots as head coach Geraint John kept the faith in his side.

It paid off as they were out of the blocks with purpose in Wellington. Two moments of brilliance from the in-form Nanyak Dala broke the deadlock as first his turnover success led to a Canadian attack before he sent a lovely grubber through which allowed Harry Jones to ground for a try Phil Mack unfortunately couldn’t convert.

Mack though was a constant thorn in Scotland’s side at the breakdown and his first turnover led to Conor Trainor cutting back inside from the right touchline before offloading to Jones, who cooly raced in for his second score. That made it 10-0. Scotland did hit back before the break when a smart switch from playmaker Colin Gregor found James Johnstone and he managed to outpace Dala for a long-range try. The converted score meant the teams went into the break delicately poised.

The second-half was intelligently marshaled by Canada though, as they made the stadium clock their friend either side of Connor Braid slipping through a hole in Scotland’s defence to make it 17-7 following Mack’s successful extra two points. And from then on the result rarely looked in doubt at Westpac Stadium for Canada as head coach John utilized his bench before the Scots struck through their own substitute, Andrew Turnbull, with time up on the clock to make it a 17-14 finish.

Canada Points – 

Try: Harry Jones (x2), Connor Braid

Conversions: Phil Mack

Scotland Points – 
Try: James Johnstone, Andrew Turn bull

Conversions: Colin Gregor (x2)

Game Two: Canada 29-12 USA
Line-up: 2 Connor Braid, 3 Nanyak Dala, 4 John Moonlight, 5 Conor Trainor, 7 Philip Mack, 8 Justin Douglas, 11 Harry Jones

Canada claimed a come-from-behind 29-12 win against the USA in their second game of the day, despite the rain making expansive rugby difficult to implement. USA had started the contest with intent and when Andrew Durutalo powered over wide out to make it 0-5 with just a minute gone, it looked like being a tough clash. But the Canadians were unmoved and showed real maturity to claw their way into matters and it was Conor Trainor leading the way with two tries before the break.

Coming out after the interval with the scoreline 12-5, Canada knew they needed to put their neighbours out of reach early if they were going to be able to relax. And they did just that when Jones raced over for his third try of the day inside two minutes of the half before Sean Duke slid over for a try at his comeback event. Duke had emerged from the bench along with Nathan Hirayama and Ciaran Hearn as coach John looked to ease them back into action after respective injury lay-offs.

USA would rally however when Nick Edwards crossed to make it 24-12. But Canada were to end with a flourish when Mike Scholz crashed over for a try late on to put the seal on a result that led to John’s men qualifying for the Cup quarter-finals.

Canada Points – 

Try: Conor Trainor (x2), Harry Jones, Sean Duke, Mike Scholz

Conversions: Phil Mack (x2)

USA Points – 
Try: Andrew Durutalo, Nick Edwards, 

Conversions: Shalom Suniula

Game Three: Canada 24-5 Argentina
Line-up: 3 Nanyak Dala, 6 Sean Duke, 7 Philip Mack, 9 Nathan Hirayama, 10 Ciaran Hearn, 11 Harry Jones, 12 Mike Scholtz

Canada saved their best until last on Day One as they made it three wins from three in Wellington, beating consistent IRB World Series nation Argentina 24-5. The team got off to the perfect possible start when slick handling created space for Dala to slide over wide on the right. With two minutes played Canada were 5-0 up. Argentina aren’t in seventh place in the standings accidentally however and when Anibal Panceyra Garrido crossed from distance a minute later, the game was tied.

Mack then struck late in the half for what was a critical score in the contest, sending the Canadians into the huddle 10-5 ahead with a noticeable calmness in their play. Pressure on the Pumas would see Canada earn an attacking scrum five meters out after great chasing from Duke. And it was from that set-piece that John’s men went in for their third score as Hearn took a ball from Hirayama to go in under the posts.

It was now 17-5 with three minutes remaining with possession and territory all with Canada, who were oozing confidence in front of the supportive Wellington crowd. Such confidence led to their fourth try of the game when a lovely interchange between Duke and Hearn saw the latter scoot over, with Mack’s extras adding the two points that was the icing on a superb opening day effort in New Zealand.

Canada Points – 

Try: Nanyak Dala, Phil Mack, Ciaran Hearn (x2)

Conversions: Nathan Hirayama, Phil Mack

Argentina Points – 
Try: Anibal Panceyra Garrido


Canada’s Men’s Wellington Sevens
February 7-8
Day One
Canada 17-14 Scotland
Canada 29-12 USA
Canada 24-5 Argentina

Day Two

Canada vs. New Zealand at 14:55 local time (20:55 ET/17:55 PT)
Canada’s Roster for Wellington – (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 Duke – (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
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
Lucas Hammond – (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Ciaran Hearn – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/The Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
Nathan Hirayama – Captain (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Canada’s Men’s Sevens Program is proudly sponsored by Macquarie Financial, Sport Canada and Own the Podium.