(ISN) – DUBAI, UAE – Despite beating Wales first up, Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team narrowly missed out on the Cup competition after losing their second and third game of Day One at the Dubai Sevens. Losses to South Africa and Portugal sealed the team’s fate as a Bowl quarter-final with France awaits at 09:30am local (12:30am ET/9:30pm PT on December 5).
Canada 19-14 Wales
Canada got their Dubai Sevens campaign off to the perfect start on Friday as they deservedly beat Wales, with a clinical performance seeing them prevail 19-14.
On new head coach Liam Middleton’s debut in the team’s hot seat, Canada were in excellent form as tries from Phil Mack (2) and Lucas Hammond saw them beat a side they have struggled against during recent meetings on the World Series.
Canada had to earn their victory though as solid early defence kept Wales at bay while Sean Duke’s wonderful slap-down tackle on a Welsh player who was over the whitewash in the second-half was a pivotal moment in an absorbing pool contest.
Wales in fact scored first when obstruction from Canada in their own 22 led to the powerful Jason Harries scoring in the aftermath. The successful kick made it 0-7.
Canada though were showing signs of attacking threat so it came as no surprise when Justin Douglas stretched his legs down the left wing before setting up the influential Mack for the levelling score, the latter adding the important extras.
The opening score of the second-half in this pool opener was always going to be critical so when the experienced Duke’s intelligent try-saving tackle denied Wales, Canada had a chance to make the Welsh pay on the long-range counter-attack.
And that is exactly what they did with captain John Moonlight’s strength and offload seeing Hammond cross under the posts before Mack pounced on loose ball soon after to extend the lead to 19-7 with a little over two minutes remaining in Dubai.
Wales did strike late but time was already up as Canada started with a big victory.
Canada 12-24 South Africa
Canada were unable to back up their opening group victory over Wales as they went down 12-24 to a clinical South African outfit in their second fixture in Dubai.
South Africa, who’d managed to beat Portugal 36-0 in their opener, were made to sweat for their win though as Canada were level at 12-12 early in the second-half before two quick-fire scores gave the Blitzbok a handy cushion for the run-in.
Possession and territory were in short supply for the Canadians in the opening exchanges as South Africa banged on the door but were kept out by a strong resistance. That was until two minutes when Cecil Afrika went over in the corner.
South Africa were at it again only two minutes later when scrum-half Branco du Preez – this time on the other side of the pitch – finished off for a 12-0 advantage.
Canada finally got the ball they were after as the half wore on and ultimately made the most of it when Moonlight showed pace and a good fend to brush off the would-be tackler. Mack’s missed extras from wide out meant it was 5-12 at the break.
The second-half began just as the first finished with Canada carrying that positive momentum out from the huddle, with a wonderful team try seeing Moonlight slip the ball back inside for speedster Sean Duke, who finished well for the levelling score.
But then came a minute-and-a-half of South African class as first Afrika’s chip and chase saw him dive over before a cross-field kick then found Seabelo Senatla for the 12-24 scoreline that the Blitzbok managed to hold on to until the final whistle.
Canada 7-26 Portugal
Canada suffered a disappointing 7-26 defeat to Portugal in their final pool game of the day, with the negative seeing the team miss out on the coveted Cup positions.
It had all started so positively for the Canadians when wing Duke collected a stray Portuguese pass to stroll under the posts for an early 7-0 lead with Mack’s kick.
However, it was as good as things got for Liam Middleton’s charges as Portugal’s leveller through the rangy Aderito Esteves from long-range sparked the European side to life from the fifth minute. They would unfortunately kick on after the break.
Canada simply couldn’t get their hands on possession in the second stanza as the Portuguese turned the screw, capitalizing on sloppy mistakes and weak defence as first Pedro Leal found a hole in the eighth minute for a critical score in Dubai.
Portugal added their third try of the game four minutes later through Nuno Guedes and as time wore on in the heat, it was the underdogs who crossed again, this time Bernardo Cardoso going over at the death to compound the loss for Canada.
Canada’s Roster for Dubai and Port Elizabeth – (Club, CRC Team) Hometown, Province
Admir Cejvanovic – (Burnaby Lake RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC) Abbotsford, BC
Sean Duke – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Mike Fuailefau – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Lucas Hammond – (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Pat Kay – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Duncan, BC
Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
John Moonlight – Captain (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
Jack Smith – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Lakefield, ON
Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Sean White – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Adam Zaruba – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Players Unavailable due to injury or other commitments:
Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack)
Ciaran Hearn – (Castaway Wanderers/Atlantic Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
Nathan Hirayama – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
Liam Underwood – (Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Senior Men’s Team Staff:
Liam Middleton – Head Coach
Ben Herring – Assistant Coach
Danielle Mah – Physiotherapist
Lorna Barry – Strength and Conditioning Coach
Calum Ramsay – Performance Analyst
Brian Hunter – Manager
Dubai Sevens Schedule December 5-6
Day One Schedule:
Canada 19-14 Wales
Canada 12-24 South Africa
Canada 7-26 Portugal
Day Two Schedule:
Canada vs. France at 09:30am local (12:30am ET/9:30pm PT on December 5).
Men’s HSBC Sevens World Series Dates 2014-15
Australia 11-12 October 2014
Dubai 5-6 December 2014
South Africa 13-14 December 2014
New Zealand 6-7 February 2015
USA 13-15 February 2015
Hong Kong 27-29 March 2015
Japan 4-5 April 2015
Scotland 9-10 May 2015
England 16-17 May 2015