Canada loses to Portugal in semis at Dubai Sevens

The Canadian Press
11/30/2013 1:36:30 PM
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Philip Mack had a try and two conversions in Canada's 33-24 loss to Portugal on Saturday in the semifinal of the Dubai Sevens tournament.

The Canadians had started the second day of the tournament with a 22-12 triumph over Spain in the quarter-final, led by John Moonlight's two tries.

In the semi, the game began poorly for Canada as a mistake from the kickoff led to Portugal crossing via Aderito Esteves wide out. Pedro Leal landed the touchline extras.

It looked like Canada would rally when Harry Jones set off on an impressive break-out following Nanyak Dala's evasive work close to his own try-line. However, the ball was turned over and Portugal soon struck when Miguel Lucas went in under the posts. Leal was successful again, making it 14-0.

That score was compounded by the loss of Canadian Ciaran Hearn to injury in back play. His replacement, Adam Kleeberger, scored a try soon after to reduce Portugal's lead to just seven points.

Mack then capitalized on a Portuguese error, racing in and make it 14-12 at the break.

Manuel Costa and David Mateus extended the Portugese lead further in the opening exchanges of the second half to make it 26-12 with four minutes remaining.

Moonlight and Mike Scholtz responded for Canada, cutting the lead to two points with 20 seconds left to play before Mateus landed the final score.

Later, Fiji won its first Dubai Sevens rugby title by blitzing last season's two best teams, New Zealand in the semifinals and South Africa in the final.

Fiji gave New Zealand, the World Cup and world series champion and winner of the first leg at Gold Coast, its heaviest defeat in the series' 15-year history by 44-0 then proceeded to score four tries in the final before South Africa replied.

Fiji's sevens talent has been far less of a doubt than their consistency. They have won the series only once, in 2006, and started this series with a quarter-final loss in Gold Coast.

But in their first final in five tournaments going back to last season, Benito Masilevu was over 90 seconds in, and again in the eighth minute from a patient pass by Pio Tuwai. A minute later, South Africa had a man sin-binned and Samisoni Viriviri scored from the kickoff.

From 19-0 at halftime, it became 24-0 when Osea Kolinisau spoiled South Africa scrum ball and flicked it to his side and Emosi Mulevoro ran in untouched from halfway.

While Jona Tuitoga was in the bin, South Africa hit back with tries to Cheslin Kolbe and Sampie Mastriet, but Kolinisau set up replacement Leo Naikasau. Chris Dry finished the scoring for South Africa.

South Africa beat England 26-12 in the semifinals, and host the next leg in Port Elizabeth next weekend.

Adam Kleeberger (Photo:


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