Canada Beats New Zealand For The First Time In 7’s Series

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(ISN) – TOKYO, JAPAN – Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team finished fourth in the Tokyo event of the World Rugby Series after losing 19–21 to Fiji at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground. Liam Middleton’s side had earlier shocked New Zealand 19-15 in the quarter-final and were unlucky not to make the final, battling bravely in defeat to the English. And in their last game of a hugely encouraging tournament – a third place play-off against Fiji – the Canadians unfortunately went down to a narrow defeat on Sunday.

Canada 19-15 New Zealand

Canada made history on Sunday as they picked up a first ever victory over New Zealand on the World Rugby Sevens Series, running out 19-15 winners in Tokyo. The All Blacks Sevens had boasted a flawless 28 wins from 28 record against the Canadians prior to the game, but that was ended thanks to a fine performance.

What made the result all the more impressive was that Canada were 0-5 behind inside 20 seconds when Joe Webber raced over immediately from the kick-off. But Middleton’s side regrouped and slowly clawed their way back into the match, with Sean White’s outstanding offload near to halfway seeing Mike Fuailefau pin his ears back for the left sideline to lock up the Cup quarter-final in the Tokyo rain.

New Zealand though did head into the break in the lead courtesy of a well-taken score from veteran Tim Mikkelson, who ran diagonally to the left-hand corner.

The second-half was all Canada and with three minutes to play, a captain’s score from John Moonlight after sustained pressure in New Zealand’s 22 made it 12-10. Canada’s tails were well-and-truly up as they sensed a Cup semi-final was on.

And that was secured in the thirteenth minute when Conor Trainor slid over in the right corner, with a wonderful conversion from Harry Jones proving decisive as Gordon Tietjens’ New Zealanders now required two scores to claim a late victory. They could only manage one via Sherwin Stowers which meant Canada triumphed.

Canada 5-14 England

Canada were unlucky losers in their Cup semi-final against England on Sunday, despite dominating the high pressure game at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground. The squad, clearly buoyed by that quarter-final win over New Zealand, played with plenty of confidence against an English side that struggled for possession. But they somehow managed to see off the Canadians and claim the place in the Cup final.

Canada would subsequently move into a 3rd place play-off against Fiji, but may feel they were deserving of taking on South Africa in the big Cup showdown in Tokyo. England were reduced to six players in the third minute when captain Tom Mitchell was shown a yellow card for an alleged punch. However, Canada could not make their numerical advantage count as it was in fact a try against the run of play from Charlie Hayter that sent the English in at the half-time turnaround 0-7 in front.

Simon Amor’s charges then doubled their advantage with five minutes remaining when a close-range effort from Phil Burgess gave them welcome breathing space. But the Canadians wouldn’t roll over and when England playmaker Dan Bibby was sin-binned, they sniffed an opportunity to claw their way back into the contest. Unfortunately though, Trainor’s unconverted five-pointer near the left-hand corner was too late for Canada as they went down bravely to a relieved English outfit.

Canada 19-21 Fiji

It was late heartbreak for Canada as two late tries from Fiji saw them go down to the World Sevens Series hopefuls 19-21 in an exciting third place play-off match. Canada were 19-7 ahead after eleven minutes but the islanders struck back in the twelfth and fourteenth minute with tries to leave Canada in fourth spot in Tokyo.

Those nineteen points arrived after Jerry Tuwai had opened the scoring on two minutes before Canada grew into the game and threatened Ben Ryan’s outfit. Adam Zaruba and Harry Jones went close to levelling in quick succession before the break but Ciaran Hearn eventually unlocked the door, with Jones’ superb conversion making it 7-7 at the turnaround. That was no more than the Canadians deserved.

Canada would hit the front two minutes after the interval when captain Moonlight powered over from close range near to the left sideline, with his second try of the game coming soon after as he switched against a drifting defence to make it 19-7. But Fiji’s class then shone through with converted scores from Osea Kolinisau and Savenaca Rawaca leaving Canada floored after a strong display and day overall.

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:

Day One:

Canada 7-29 South Africa
Canada 14-22 USA
Canada 26-10 Kenya

Day Two:

Canada 19-15 New Zealand
Canada 5-14 England
Canada 19-21 Fiji