March 11, 2018 Vancouver, BC (ISN) – Eleventh-ranked Canada Sevens men fell to Samoa in the 13th place consolation final Sunday at the HSBC World – Vancouver Sevens tournament to finish the weekend-long event with a record of 2-1-3 in front of throngs of cheering rugby fans at sold out BC Place Stadium.
Canada would meet Samoa for 13th place after a 31-19 semi-final win over France, in what could have been considered a retribution game for Canada’s Challenge Trophy loss to France last weekend at the Las Vegas Sevens.
Canada would jump out to a comfortable 10-0 lead on the ninth-ranked Samoa by the end of the first half on trys by Harry Jones and John Moonlight. Samoa, not to be denied, would answer with three trys of their own in the second half to take the 21-10 lead. Nathan Hirayama would reply with a try with time expired in the loss. Hirayama’s 49-point weekend keeps him in the World Rugby Sevens point lead, 22 points ahead in the standings over James Stannard of Australia.
Canada would be eliminated from the Vancouver Sevens Challenge Trophy hunt earlier in the first match of day Sunday with a shut out 19-0 loss to Scotland. Canada, looking less sharp than the forty-seven point performance the night prior against Uruguay, would appear to have trouble connecting passes and finishing tackles to give Scotland the decided edge in the match.
The Pool Play :
Despite the disappointing record, Canada displayed some inspirational sevens play in day one pool play would have perhaps put a different light on the tournament. Canada would open the tournament against Australia, USA, and Uruguay.
Canada, showing a gritty performance against Australia in opening pool play, would draw a 19-19 tie with the fourth place team from down under on an end of time run by John Moonlight from his own end to score the tying try. Nathan Hirayama and Pat Kay would also figure earlier in the match to stun the yellow and green.
Canadian Head Coach Damion McGrath liked what he saw in his team, ” I think the term “Canadian grit” is just used as a throw away term often, but I think we saw it there today. This team ( Canada ) has grit and determination. Overall, I’m very pleased with the outcome”
Against the USA, in a perennial feud no matter what sport it is, Canada would threaten the USA with another draw, knotted at 21-21 with time expired. Pressuring the stars and stripes in their own end, an errant Canadian pass would go USA’s way for a deflating, 29-21 game-winning run for USA 7’s. Game scorers for Canada were Connor Braid, Justin Douglas, and John Moonlight. Nathan Hirayama, leading all scorers in the 2018 series, would make good 3-3 on conversion attempts. Hirayama would also record a career milestone, surpassing rugby sevens great Waisale Serevi on the all time total points list with 1328 to his name.
Despite their two earlier pool play losses, Canada, sitting in third place in pool “A”, still had a glimmer of hope to advance to the Cup round based on points totals. A forty-two point or greater win against Uruguay, matched with a USA win over Australia would advance Canada over Australia and into the Cup quarter-finals.
Canada would spot Uruguay the first try of the game 5-0 in the first minute of play and then never look back. Canada would score the next forty-seven points as if they could do no wrong. Canada would go up 19-5 at halftime on trys by Hirayama, John Moonlight, and a recovered Hirayama chip ball in the Uruguay end left for Harry Jones to touch down. Moonlight would open scoring in the second half on a short pass from Hirayama, followed by a score by Connor Braid, and a pair by Justin Douglas, his last try making the difference on the pool points board, and also in his sevens career tallying his 100th try in international sevens play. Asked about how it felt to reach the century mark in trys, Douglas would comment, ” It feels great. Especially in Vancouver. My folks are here. Everybody is here .”
USA would give up and early lead, and Australia would go on to win 31-21 and relegate Canada to the 13th place final after Canada would defeat France in the semifinals 31-19 to meet Samoa.
Next, Canada and the world travel to Hong Kong for leg number 7 of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Tour.