Story and images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)
March 5th, 2016 Las Vegas, NV (ISN) – All bets were down as the Canadian Sevens rugby team returned to HSBC World Cup Sevens play in day one action Friday kicking off a two stop, North American tour with the weekend-long Las Vegas Sevens series played at UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium. Canada, after dropping game one to South Africa, stormed back from a 12 point deficit to tie the USA Eagles, making positive strides going into day two action.
Canada would find their stride in the second half to force a 26-26 tie with the seventh ranked USA Eagles. Canada’s Harry Jones climbs the ladder looking for ball possesion – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca)
Canada came into Las Vegas after spending time down under with play in Wellington, New Zealand, and a successful round of play down under at Australia’s Sydney Sevens where the Canucks came away triumphant winning the bowl final over Samoa.
Canada, coming to Las Vegas ranked 9th in HSBC World Sevens standings, drew a strong, second place South African side, in match 3 opening round play in Pool D. Canada would drop a stern 33-7 decision to the notably faster paced team. Phil Mack would score the lone try for Canada late in the second half for the red and white.
Mike Fuailefau, with the ball , was difficult to bring down for South Africa in the opening match for Canada – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
In Canada’s second match of the day, fans got a taste of an all- North American rivalry when the host country USA Sevens Eagles would match up in a spirited, open field game. USA was expected to runaway with the match, and by all first half accounts, that is exactly what they did, exploiting rugbys world-class speed of USA newcomer Perry Baker. USA Sevens faithful would cheer the homeside going up 19-7 at the half on trys by Zach Test, Perry Baker, Martin Iosefo. Canada’s Admir Cejvanovic would break loose untouched in a momentary lapse in USA defense, scoring from the wing, much to the ire of disapproving USA fan base.
The shifty Phil Mack, making strides, would score the tieing try to force the draw with the USA in Canada’s second game of the day one action – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
USA’s Baker, scoring two trys in the game, would run end to end for his second try of the game at the 1:52 mark of the second half in front of a full house of frantic fans witnessing the speed of which Baker would separate himself from the rest of the field. That would be the last try the USA would score before Canada would magically find their pace in a exciting comeback bid.
Canada’s John Moonlight was intrustmental in taking possesion away from the USA to mount the comeback bid – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Canada, forcing the USA to miss tackles in the second half, and keeping ball possession with 47 completed passes against the USA’s 10, would mount their comeback bid, running for three unanswered trys in a 2 and a half minute span. Trys would be had by Conor Trainor, Nathan Hirayama, and the game-tying try by Phil Mack, putting the ball down in the corner. Nathan Hirayama would have a chance to steal the win but would miss on the conversion attempt, as time would run out, finishing in the 26-26 deadlock.
Conor Trainor would run the wing, making the USA miss tackle and score the first try of three Canadian trys in the second half – Erich Eichhorn (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Canadian coach Liam Middleton has a post USA match debrief with John Moonlight – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Canada (0-1-1) will take on Wales in their final test in pool play Saturday afternoon at 2:08 pm.