SYDNEY, Australia — Canada gave unbeaten New Zealand all it could handle, but still lost 17-7 in women's Cup quarterfinal action at the Sydney Sevens on Saturday.
Canada bounced back from a poor preliminary round to test the unbeaten Black Ferns, who had won the first two stops of the HSBC World Rugby Women's Series this season.
The Canadian women were solid on defence in the first half, but gave up two consecutive penalties and New Zealand made them pay when Ruby Tui capped off an attack down the wing for a 5-0 lead.
Canada captain Ghislaine Landry scored off a fine run from a lineout, putting Canada ahead 7-5 with her conversion. But New Zealand captain Sarah Hirini finished a lengthy New Zealand attack for a 10-7 lead.
New Zealand playmaker Tyla Nathan-Wong was carried off the field after the Hirini try.
Theresa Fitzpatrick made it in 17-7 with a converted try in the second half, capping a lengthy attack triggered by a fine run from Katarina Whata-Simkins. Canada mounted a late attack but the New Zealand defence held strong.
The win — the Black Ferns' third straight over Canada this season — improved New Zealand's record to 16-0-0 this season. The Canadian women, meanwhile, can finish no higher than fifth in Sydney.
Later Saturday, Thibault Mazzoleni scored two tries and Jimmy Yobo had a single to carry France to a 17-12 victory over the Canadian men.
Mike Fuailefau and Pat Kay had a try apiece, and captain Nathan Hirayama had a conversion for Canada against 12th-ranked France.
Earlier Saturday, Cole Davis, in just his second sevens tournament for Canada, scored two tries as Canada opened their Sydney campaign with a 24-14 win over Kenya.
Connor Braid and Phil Berna also scored tries for Canada with Hirayama adding two conversions against the 13th-ranked Kenyans. Brock Webster of Uxbridge, Ont., won his first sevens cap for Canada.
The Canadians, 11th in the overall World Series standings, faced the second-ranked Americans in Pool B play later Saturday. The U.S. opened with a 7-0 victory over France and dominated Kenya 41-0.
The Canadian women were fortunate to make their Cup quarterfinals after preliminary-round losses to Ireland and Russia.
Still, the second-ranked Canadian women, who beat No. 11 Fiji 36-12 to open the day, made it to the Cup quarterfinals as a third-place team.
But they only got in by points difference over Fiji and New Zealand.
New Zealand tops the women's season standings with 40 points, compiling a 12-0-0 record in winning events in Glendale, Colo., and Dubai. Canada (34 points) is second ahead of the U.S. (32), Australia (28) and France (22).
The Canadians opened the season with a third-place finish in Glendale before finishing runner-up to New Zealand in Dubai.
The Canadian women were third in Sydney last season and won it all the season before.