Canadian women lose rugby sevens final

KITAKYUSHU, Japan — It was heartbreak for Canada in the final of the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens on Sunday, beaten 17-14 by New Zealand on a Michaela Blyde try with no time remaining.

The Canadian women had won their five previous matches at the tournament, blanking Russia 41-0 and Australia 33-0 earlier Sunday — Canada’s largest margin of victory ever over both countries.

“The whole team is really proud of how they played the tournament but gutted we didn’t win the final,” said Canadian coach John Tait. “Full credit to New Zealand, they are a team with great composure and made us pay for the few mistakes we made.”

Tait’s team had been hoping to add the Japan title to the one won by the Canadian men in Singapore last weekend.

Hannah Darling’s converted try gave Canada a 7-0 lead but New Zealand countered with a Niall Williams try to tie it 7-7 at the half.

Jen Kish’s try in the corner, following a fine run by captain Ghislaine Landry, put the Canadians ahead 14-7 after an excellent Landry conversion. The Black Ferns cut the lead to 14-12 with Portia Woodman running down the flank for her 142nd career try. Tyla Nathan-Wong missed a difficult conversion attempt.

After the try, New Zealand kicked off with less than a minute remaining and got the all back when Kish uncharacteristically fumbled the kickoff. The Black Ferns retained possession and nearly scored on the left, only to be denied by a try-saving Landry tackle. But they kept their calm and sent the ball down the line to Blyde, who crossed the line in the right corner.

Canada stands third in the overall standings, behind Series leader New Zealand and Australia.

Tait’s team finished sixth in Dubai, won in Sydney and was third in Las Vegas. The next stop on the six-event circuit is May 27-28 in Langford, B.C.

Canada’s record in World Series finals fell to 3-5 with three of those losses to New Zealand, which advanced to the inaugural Japan tournament final with a 21-0 win over Fiji.

Earlier in the day, Canada took it to Australia with a five-try performance against the Olympic champion. Julia Greenshields scored three tries while Breanne Nicholas and Britt Benn added singles.

The win over Australia marked Canada’s 100th victory in World Series play.

Landry led the way against Russia with three tries. Greenshields had two with Kish and Natasha Watcham-Roy also scoring.

Landry and Greenshields were named to the tournament dream team.

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