Preview: Hong Kong Sevens

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HSBC sevens worls series

March 27, 2014 (ISN) – Canada will be eager to return home from the back-to-back Asian legs of the IRB World Sevens Series with a solid performance in Hong Kong over this weekend.

Three rounds including this one remain in 2013/14’s campaign and while Canada would have been disappointed to bow out of the Plate competition in Tokyo last Sunday, a healthy ten points was sealed after some excellent pool showings.

Due to those exploits, Geraint John’s charges are now very much in the chasing group, as only six points separates themselves from sixth-place Samoa. Stuck in between that duo – Canada are currently eighth – are Argentina and Kenya, so the race for a best ever IRB World Sevens Series finish is now well-and-truly on.

This weekend’s tournament is a three-day event and has grown into the biggest of all, with Hong Kong rich in history and atmosphere since its 1976 inception.

Canada were Plate runners-up at this showpiece in 2013 after wins over Spain, Hong Kong and Portugal, before ultimately coming unstuck against Samoa. Now on the back of a third successive Cup appearance and a year better for experience, more knockout rugby against the leading sides is the objective from Friday to Sunday, with Portugal, Argentina and England first standing in the team’s way.

Game One vs Portugal at 18:46 local time (06:46 ET/03:46 PT)

Canada’s solitary match on Friday sees them take on Portugal, who they overcame 40-5 in Japan last weekend, with the tries coming from Sean Duke, Ciaran Hearn, Nathan Hirayama (two), Harry Jones and Sean White in a clinical performance.

They will be looking to replicate at the Hong Kong Stadium.

However, Canada have not had things all their own way against the European outfit as Portugal recorded a win in Dubai earlier this term, so hitting the ground running like they did at the Tokyo leg is a must ahead of Saturday’s two fixtures.

Game Two vs Argentina at 12:18 local time (00:18 ET/21:18 PT)

Saturday begins with a landmark game for Canada as it will be their 600th match in the IRB World Sevens Series, with Argentina their first opponents on Day Two.

While Los Pumas did not make the Cup competition last week in Tokyo, they did lift a trophy, beating Samoa to the Shield silverware. But, as mentioned previously, Canada’s top tier battles on Day Two a week ago has seen them cut the gap on Argentina in the current World Series standings to just three points so there is expected to be a good deal extra significance attached to this midday fixture.

Like Canada, Argentina also faced fellow pool outfit Portugal in Tokyo and didn’t enjoy the same manner of victory as Canada, with a tight 24-21 win claimed.

Game Three vs England at 18:32 local time (06:32 ET/03:32 PT)

Canada came agonizingly close to putting an end to an almost four-year winless run against Simon Amor’s outfit when they ran England close in Tokyo, eventually going down 14-10 as a late five-pointer from Dan Norton came against the run of play.

England then went on to enjoy a good round with a third-place finish seeing them defeat New Zealand 21-12 in their final match, meaning they enter this leg of the Series high on confidence. Two of their main strike weapons are pace men Marcus Watson and Norton, who will need to be closely monitored throughout the game.

Whilst the English are presently fourth in the standings – 32 points ahead of Canada – John’s side would surely have been buoyed by how they took the game to the Red Rose in Tokyo and will undoubtedly be looking forward to facing them once again.

Canada’s Men’s Hong Kong Sevens

March 28-30

Day One

Canada v Portugal:

Friday, March 28 – 18:46 local time

Friday, March 28 – 06:46 ET

Friday, March 28 – 03:46 PT

Canada v Argentina:

Saturday, March 29 – 12:18 local time

Saturday, March 29 – 00:18 ET

Friday, March 28 – 21:18 PT

Canada v England:

Saturday, March 29 – 18:32 local time

Saturday, March 29 – 06:32 ET

Saturday, March 29 – 03:32 PT

WOMEN’S HONG KONG SEVENS UPDATES

Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team opened the 2014 Hong Kong Invitational with a 19-5 victory over the hosts, Hong Kong. Canada jumped out to an early lead when Ghislaine Landry broke through three would-be tacklers to score under the posts. After an Ashley Steacy conversion, Canada led 7-0.

Captain Jen Kish was next to touch down, as she took a pass from Bianca Farella and ran 60 metres to further Canada’s lead. Steacy added another conversion.

In the second half, Farella finished off a Canadian scoring play to bring the score to 19-0. Hong Kong, supported by a loud home crowd, got on the board with a late try, but Canada’s defense held on to open the tournament with a win.

Canada’s Roster for Hong Kong – (Club, CRC Team) Hometown, Province

Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers RFC/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK

Sean Duke – (UVic Vikes/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

Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC

John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON

Chauncey O’Toole – (Castaway Wanderers/Atlantic Rock) Belleisle, NB

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

Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC

Players Unavailable for Selection:

Connor Braid – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC

Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC) Abbotsford, BC

Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC

Pat Parfrey – (James Bay AA/Atlantic Rock) St. John’s, NL

Senior Men’s Team Staff:

Geraint John – Head Coach

Morgan Williams – Assistant Coach

Danielle Mah – Physiotherapist

Calum Ramsay – Performance Analyst

Lorna Barry – Strength and Conditioning Coach

Brian Hunter – Manager

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