Story and Images by Erich Eichhorn
March 6, 2016 Las Vegas, NV (ISN) – Canada conceded a 24-12 loss to Samoa in the Shield Final of the HSBC World Sevens Las Vegas Series Sunday afternoon in front of a packed and boisterous crowd at the 40,000 seat Sam Boyd Stadium.
Adam Zaruba unloads the ball before he is taken down by two Samoan defenders – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Canada vs England – 24-7
Captain Canada, John Moonlight, lead the way with two tries in the match, while teammates Nathan Hirayama and Pat Kay added single trys of their own to power the Canadian side to the 24-7 England victory. Hirayama, sitting third in the world standings for total points scored on the year, added nine points to his World Series total with an additional 2 converts to go with his try.
Captain John Moonlight runs cross field looking to turn the corner and run the wing for a try. Moonlight would score 2 trys to lift his team to the win – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Hirayama would open the scoring early to set the pace, running in the ball from the 22 metre line at 2:22 of the first half. John Moonlight would add to the inspired Canadian play putting the ball down two and a half minutes later to advance his team to an unreplied 12-0 lead at the half. England would mark the score sheet with a try by Ruaridh McConnochie. A successful convert would put the pressure on Canada 12-7. Canada’s Pat Kay would extend his team’s lead two minutes later from the left wing after some technical passing would afford Kay room to find the goal line. John Moonlight would score his second try of the morning at 6:49 of the ten minute second half after Nathan Hirayama would be forced to give up the ball 10 metres out, passing it off to a trailing Moonlight in support. Some fantastic tackling would keep England from making any further run at a comeback.
Adam Zaruba shields the ball on his way around the English defender – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
In the stat department Canada would complete 31 passes to 20 by England. Canada would also present a 91 percent successful tackle rate compared to the weaker 52 percent of England.
Canada vs Samoa – 12-24 Shield Final
Mike Fauilefau and Conor Trainor would score Canada’s only trys in the game, scoring two tries in the first half to hold Samoa even 12-12. Fauilefau would give Canadian fans hope, scoring on Samoa only 15 seconds into the game down the middle. Samoa’s Samoa Tola and Telea Seumanutafa would be rewarded for their efforts with tries. Tola would break a Canadian tackle to run half the field to go up 7-5 with a successful conversion. Seumantafa would provide similar effort running from the right wing for his try and a 12-5 lead. Conor Trainor would find an answer with only two and a half minutes remaining in the half, able to find space from close quarters to find the try line and even the score 12-12 after a successful convert by Nathan Hirayama.
Canada’s Mike Fauilefau runs away from the Samoan defense. Fauilefau would score the first try of the game only 15 sec into the match – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Canada’s tackling would prove inconsistent in the second half, affording Samoa Tola to score his second try of the game 37 seconds into the second half on a mishandled pass by Mike Fauilefau. Tola would take uncontested, the advantage for the 19-12 score. Samoa, noted for strong running, would average only 4.5 passes per try in the game, compared to Canada’s 15 passes for the same reward. Unable to solve Samoa’s aggressive defense, Canada was unable recover from Samoa’s margin. Samoa would add a final try by Alefosio Tapili at 7:34 to all but end the game at 24-12, and quash any hope of Canada recovering from an uncertain weekend performance in the Shield Final loss.
Adam Zaruba gets tripped up by a stiff Samoan defense. Samoa would hold Canada to only two trys – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Nathan Hirayama looks to get around the Samoan defense trying to get out of the Canadian end – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Next weekend Canada Sevens will host the world at BC Place for the inaugural, sold out, World HSBC Canada Sevens Series, with hopes of an inspired result.