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Canada has strong finish on Gold Coast

Press Release

10/13/2012 11:27:12 AM

Canada saved their best until last on Day One of the new HSBC IRB World Sevens Series as they came within one score of New Zealand before overcoming close neighbours the USA.
 
The Canucks face off with Portugal in Sunday's Bowl quarter-final after their one win from three games record on the opening day in Australia.
 
Conditions were magnificent on the Gold Coast as a perfect Skilled Park surface and pleasant weather allowed ample running rugby and enterprise throughout.
 
Day One
Canada 0-38 South Africa
 
It was a disappointing first outing for Canada as they fell to a clinical South African outfit 38-0 in a match that brought few positives to take forward into the next game.
 
After a period where possession changed hands on several occasions, South Africa managed to find holes in the Canucks defence and Steven Hunt exploited that fact as he stepped his way over the line. Branco du Preez added the conversion before the Blitzbokke saw space in behind and captain Kyle Brown put a nice chip over for Tshotsho Mbovane to gather and score. Du Preez couldn't convert on that occasion.

Canada needed a foothold in the game and finally managed to gain some territory through strong work from Chauncey O'Toole, but it was unfortunately in vain as the South Africans broke out from their own half for their third try of the piece, this time Cornal Hendricks scored with Du Preez's conversion making it 0-17 at half-time.
 
Coach Geraint John attempted to rally his troops at the break but with Canada's defence being stretched by the minute, the 2008/09 Series champions cut loose with further tries from Chris Dry and two more for the hat-trick from Hendricks leaving the Canucks wondering what went wrong in those opening 14 minutes.
 
Line-up: Nanyak Dala, John Moonlight, Sean Duke, Philip Mack, Harry Jones, Ciaran Hearn, Chauncey O'Toole.
 
Canada 21-28 New Zealand
 
New Zealand extended their winning streak over Canada to 20 games but certainly did not have things their own way as John's side fought bravely for every inch.
 
Canada defended admirably early on in what was a much-improved showing than against South Africa as it took the Kiwis over two minutes - and all their skills - to break the deadlock. The red wall looked impenetrable until the rangy Tim Mikkleson was able to offload to playmaker Tomasi Cama, who easily converted his own try.
 
That unfortunately was the start of a barrage of pressure on the Canadian line as Iopu Iopu and then Gareth Williams-Spiers went over to make it 0-21 in quick time.
 
Canada though were sparked into life when a captain's breakout from Nanyak Dala finally put New Zealand on the back foot. From that, the industrious Ciaran Hearn was held up over the try-line but then prop Dala showed his skills with a perfectly weighted cross-field to the waiting Sean Duke on the right. The Canucks were on the board, with Phil Mack kicking the conversion excellently from the touchline.
 
Canada looked to be growing in confidence after that and when Duke set off down the left wing for more territory, it was the start of something special. A lovely short ball from Mack found Hearn who waltzed in to make it 21-14 with three minutes left.
 
But the class of New Zealand's maestro shone through as Cama stepped from the halfway line and then sprinted the remaining 50 metres for a converted score to take it to 28-14 before Canada - buoyed by the crowd's support - had the final say courtesy of some fine counter-rucking leading to a penalty being sent out to the left touchline where the powerful John Moonlight barged over. Mack once again was successful with a superb conversion as Canada finished much the superior outfit.
 
Line-up: Nanyak Dala, John Moonlight, Sean Duke, Philip Mack, Harry Jones, Ciaran Hearn, Chauncey O'Toole.
 
Canada 22-21 USA
 
Victory was tasted for the Canucks in their final game of Day One in Australia as they held on for a much-needed win to set up a Bowl quarter-final against Portugal.
 
Buoyed by their impressive performance against New Zealand, the game opened with a gift as the USA were sloppy at an early breakdown to allow forward Dala to pounce on the loose ball before feeding wide man Duke. Mack was once again successful before things got even better a minute later, this time the busy Hearn was the man who crossed when he found space on the right touchline. Duke missed that kick however, but it was 12-0 to cap a strong opening for the Canadian squad.
 
12-0 then became 17-0 when O'Toole showed his determination to get to his feet and reach for the try-line as Canada were ending the first day with a flourish.
 
It was short-lived as the latter stages of the half saw the USA mount a fightback. First Maka Unufe replied with a breakaway try against weak midfield defence to make it 17-7 before a penalty try and a yellow card for Harry Jones, who was penalised for holding a man back in the act of scoring, made it 17-14 at half-time.
 
Despite returning with only six players, Canada were the next to score what proved a key try as Duke was adjudged to have grounded the ball in a result that moved John's side eight points clear. USA did hit back with one minute and 30 seconds left to make it 22-21 but Canada held on as Mack ran the ball out after the hooter.
 
Line-up: Nanyak Dala, Thyssen de Goede, Sean Duke, Philip Mack, Harry Jones, Ciaran Hearn, Chauncey O'Toole.
 
Day Two
 
Canada will face off against fellow core-team returnees Portugal in the quarter-final of the Bowl on Sunday with the fixture kicking off at 10:30 (EST of Australia).