by Adam Kyriacou
(ISN) – Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team have progressed into the Cup quarter-finals of the Tokyo Sevens after claiming one win from three matches on Day One.
Despite opening up their pool campaign with a 7-29 defeat to South Africa before they went down 14-22 to USA, a 26-10 win over Kenya gave Canada a stronger points difference over the latter two nations so they finished in second position.
Their quarter-final is against New Zealand at 12:26pm (11:26pm ET/8:26pm PT).
The entire tournament will be streamed live at www.worldrugby.org from Tokyo.
Canada 7-29 South Africa
It was a difficult start to the pool campaign for Canada they lost 7-29 to current World Series leaders South Africa on the opening day of the Tokyo Sevens.
Five tries to Canada’s one, which came from Justin Douglas, meant the Blitzboks ultimately ran out comfortable winners, with Seabelo Senatla scoring a hat-trick.
South Africa opened the scoring in the second minute when a switch move created space for the dynamic Werner Kok to sprint in under the posts from close range.
However, Canada showed patience and struck back via speedster Douglas as he spotted a gaping hole in the defence and promptly raced over to level the scores.
Unfortunately that was as good as things got for the Canadians in the game as the Blitzboks clicked into gear with Kwagga Smith’s try and an opportunistic Senatla score sending them in at the interval in a strong position at twelve points ahead.
Canada managed to keep the South Africans at bay for three minutes after the break but once the lethal Senatla crossed wide out, the result was beyond doubt.
Senatla added his third just before the full-time siren as Canada were well beaten.
Canada 14-22 USA
Canada suffered their second loss of the day against rivals USA as they went down bravely, losing 14-22 in a match that was marred by scrum-half Lucas Hammond being carried off after sustaining a heavy blow to the head during the first period.
The young back caught the full force of Danny Barrett’s elbow whilst going in to attempt to bring down the Eagle but came off second best, with impact from the collision and then his head hitting the floor leading to the player’s premature exit.
Canada demonstrated real character to bounce back from that blow and opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Mike Fuailefau was on hand to take Douglas’ slick offload close to the American line. Harry Jones’ extras meant it was 7-0 to Canada.
USA bounced back before the half-time break though as numbers were created on the left wing where Carlin Isles’ pace did the rest. The conversion was wayward.
Canada were subsequently 7-5 ahead at the break but the second-half began in the worst possible fashion when Isles again showed his speed to race around captain John Moonlight down the short side of a ruck. The kick made it 7-12 to the USA.
Zack Test then extended the margin to ten points so with four minutes remaining, Canada needed to find two scores if they were to claim a first victory on Day One.
But it wasn’t to be as despite Moonlight crossing with one minute remaining to make it 14-17, Isles would have the final say in claiming his third try of the pool game.
Canada 26-10 Kenya
Despite losing their opening two pool matches, a 26-10 victory over Kenya saw Canada progress into Sunday’s coveted Cup quarter-finals of the Tokyo Sevens.
With South Africa having defeated USA in the preceding fixture, both these sides knew the task at hand with the Canadians requiring a decent victory to qualify.
And they got it thanks to tries from Ciaran Hearn (2), Douglas and Conor Trainor as they saw off both USA and the Kenyans for the final Cup spot behind South Africa.
Hearn opened the scoring inside a minute when he showed his power from close range, driving his legs in order to get under the uprights for the try to make it 7-0.
The returning Sevens stalwart doubled Canada’s lead two minutes later, this time demonstrating his pace as he raced over from 35 metres out. Suddenly, hopes of Cup qualification were given a significant boost as Kenya looked short of answers.
Kenya did respond before the break thanks to Leonard Mugaisi’s solo score that ended with him dotting down under the posts. But surprisingly they missed the ensuing conversion and when Andrew Amonde was given a yellow card for a high tackle on Harry Jones, Canada had a chance to capitalize either side of the break.
The next score was going to be critical and it went the way of Canada as Douglas raced clear from distance, hurting Kenya who were mounting plenty of pressure until the ball came free downfield. Canada didn’t mind that as they now led 21-5.
Trainor put Canada in a healthier position two minutes before the end and despite a late five points from Mugaisi, a stronger points differential meant it would be Liam Middleton’s men facing off with the Series big hitters in Sunday’s Cup competition.
Canada’s Roster for Tokyo – (Club, CRC Team) Hometown, Province
Admir Cejvanovic – (Burnaby Lake RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Mike Fuailefau – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC) Abbotsford, BC
Lucas Hammond – (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
Ciaran Hearn – (Castaway Wanderers/Atlantic Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
Pat Kay – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Duncan,BC
John Moonlight – Captain (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Liam Underwood – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Sean Duke – (UVIC Vikes/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:
Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack)
Nathan Hirayama – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Mike Scholz – (Castaway Wanderers/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Senior Men’s Team Staff:
Liam Middleton – Head Coach
Kieran Crowley – Assistant Coach
Brian Hunter – Manager
Danielle Mah – Physiotherapist
Tokyo Sevens Schedule April 4-5:
Canada 7-29 South Africa
Canada 14-22 USA
Canada 26-10 Kenya
Canada vs. New Zealand at 12:26pm local time (11:26pm ET/8:26pm PT)