Extra-time heartbreak for Canada at IRB World Series

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10/15/2012 9:58:47 AM
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Canada made a statement that they are a force to be reckoned with in 2012/13's Sevens Series after beating Portugal and then taking England to Extra-Time on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

Despite being knocked out of the Bowl in the semi-finals, there were countless positives for Geraint John to take from the Gold Coast leg.

A dominant performance against Portugal in the last-eight saw the Canucks carry on their impressive late afternoon form of yesterday while they pushed England all the way in a classic semi. Many will feel they could have easily been victorious.

Canada will now regroup before the next IRB World Series leg in Dubai on Nov 30-Dec 1 and will be full of confidence as the team goes from strength to strength.

Day Two

Canada 31-0 Portugal

Canada followed up their impressive end to Day One on the Gold Coast with a comprehensive 31-0 win over Portugal in the Bowl quarter-finals on Sunday.

Head Coach John will have been delighted with how his charges dominated from start to finish in a five-try success that kicked off Day Two's action in Australia.

Phil Mack and Chauncey O'Toole were the leading lights in the clash as their power and dynamism proved too much to deal with for their fellow core-team returnees.

Victory pushes Canada up to a 10 to 7 record against Portugal in the IRB World Sevens Series and set up a semi-final fixture against European giants England.

O'Toole was prominent early on, showing his immense power to suck in defenders before Harry Jones found Sean Duke on the right touchline for the first score.

The Canucks' other stand-out player in the game, Mack, then came to the party when he bounced off a defender five metres from the try-line, spun out of contact and dived over for the second try. The experienced Mack then stepped up to send over the conversion for a 12-0 advantage with two minutes left of the first-half.

John's charges weren't done for the first stanza though as Duke popped up midfield before firing out a long pass from the left where Ciaran Hearn then sucked in two defenders before locating Jones, whose strong fend on the Portuguese tackler saw him go over in the right corner. A superb conversion from Mack made it 19-0.

Following the turnaround, again it was O'Toole in top form as he stood up a tackler with quick feet and then went in under the posts. Mack's simple conversion proved successful as the lead was stretched to 26-0, with Portugal struggling to cope with their opponents' hunger and consistent pressure being applied on their line.

When the Europeans did manage to apply their first spell of real pressure on the Canadians, excellent defence forced a mistake which allowed Mack to counter. And when Nanyak Dala found replacement John Moonlight, it was a foot-race from the halfway line that the Canuck just won before Mack's effort at goal struck the post.

It was then a case of mission accomplished as Canada cooly ran down the clock as they conserved energy ahead of their Bowl semi-final showdown against England.

Line-up: Thyssen de Goede, Nanyak Dala, Sean Duke, Phil Mack, Harry Jones, Ciaran Hearn, Chauncey O'Toole

Canada 19-24 England (After Extra-Time)

Canada will be left wondering what might have been on Sunday as they came painfully close to claiming the sizeable scalp of England in a dramatic game.

With a record of two wins in their previous 26 Series meetings, Canada were underdogs going in but produced a showing that made the Series take note.

The strong performance began with a clever grubber kick from Ciaran Hearn that Canada recovered, and with England all at sea, Duke saw a gap and raced over under the posts. Mack converted to make it 7-0 for the perfect start against the heavyweights, with crowd noise revealing who the neutrals were cheering for.

It was then a cross-field kick-pass that produced the next try for Canada as Harry Jones found that man Hearn, who backed his pace and made it to the corner from halfway. Mack, like he had done all tournament, knocked over a great conversion.

England managed to respond with a minute remaining in the first-half when John Brake broke from close to his own try-line and then fed the ball to Tom Mitchell, who outpaced Hearn for the corner. Christian Lewis-Pratt's conversion was good.

At 14-7, the second-half began with a nightmare scenario for Canada when deadly speedster Dan Norton slipped his watchers from the English 22, chipped over the top and then won his foot-race against a desperate Duke. The conversion was missed though so the Canucks still led 14-12 with plenty of time left on the clock.

Canada did not panic over England's comeback and even when replacement Jeff Williams managed to score a long-range try in the corner to make it 14-19, John's line-up was soon rewarded for their maturity and confidence as Duke hit back with a bang. That try came as numbers on the right side eventually led to the form wing finishing superbly under pressure. The critical touchline conversion with no time left was missed by Mack, which meant the epic contest was heading to extra-time.

Extra-time in Sevens rugby means five minutes each way under a "Golden Point" scenario, making possession even more critical. England managed to have the ball and it proved decisive when another replacement, Marcus Watson, danced his way over against the tiring Candian defence for the heart-breaking match-winning try.

Line-up: Nanyak Dala, John Moonlight, Sean Duke, Phil Mack, Harry Jones, Ciaran Hearn, Chauncey O'Toole

What Head Coach Geraint John said:

"We are a bit disappointed but must take the positives as we were the only team who played three of the top five teams in the world and came close against New Zealand, who went on to the final, and we should have won against England."

"We improved as the tournament went on especially from a defensive point of view. Going to Dubai we can take many positives such as being competitive against the top teams - and against Portugal we were very thorough and scored some excellent tries with an aggressive defence. This will help us as we move forward to the Dubai tournament where we are grouped with Australia, France and once again USA!"

Rugby Canada (Photo: Rugby Canada)


(Photo: Rugby Canada)
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