Canada wins bronze at London Sevens

LONDON — Canada capped off a stirring World Series season with a bronze medal Sunday at the London Sevens.

The Canadian men rallied from a 14-5 halftime deficit to defeat the U.S. Eagles 22-19 at Twickenham, the home of English rugby. Coach Damian McGrath’s team also downed the Americans 26-19 last month to take the title in Singapore, Canada’s first Cup final win in 140 tournaments.

Scotland, runner-up to South Africa last time out in Paris, retained its London crown with a 12-7 win over England. Scotland’s Mark Robertson was named player of the final.

South Africa, which secured the Series championship last week in Paris, placed fifth at the London event Sunday after defeating Australia 28-17.

The Canadians finished eighth in the World Series standings. England was second and Fiji third.

Canada led the fifth-ranked Americans 5-0 on a Mike Fuailefau try early in the bronze-medal match but trailed 14-5 at the half on tries by Maka Unufe and speedster Perry Baker. The Canadians pulled ahead 15-14 on tries by Harry Jones and Matt Mullins, adding a late insurance score by Nathan Hirayama after the Canadian playmaker charged down a Madison Hughes kick.

The Americans added a consolation try with no time remaining.

Canada defeated Argentina 28-7 in quarter-final play before falling 24-5 to England in the semifinal.

Hirayama scored two tries against Argentina with singles from Fuailefau and Justin Douglas as Canada led 14-0 and 21-7.

Adam Zaruba scored Canada’s lone try against England after a storming run by Fuailefau cracked open the English defence.

Canada went 2-1-0 Saturday to reach the Cup quarter-finals.

The Canadian men opened the event in style, rallying from 12-0 and 19-7 deficits to defeat Olympic champion Fiji 22-19. Veteran John Moonlight scored the winning try — his 100th on the circuit — with no time remaining to help Canada post just its third win in 48 tries against the Pacific islanders.

New Zealand beat Canada 19-14 only after Joe Webber tracked down Canada’s Jones metres from the line. The Canadians wrapped up pool play with a 28-14 win over Japan and advanced to the Cup quarter-finals after the All Blacks beat Fiji 27-21. It marked the first time in more than three years that Fiji had failed to make the final eight.

After opening the season with disappointing performances in Dubai and Cape Town, Canada went on to reach the Cup quarter-finals in six of the next eight tournaments. The highlight was the win in Singapore but Canada, in its first year under McGrath, also finished fourth in Wellington.

The fine finish also served as a statement for the Canadian men, who failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics and then lost their Own The Podium funding in February for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Canada finished 13th on the circuit last season, after placing ninth and sixth the previous campaigns.

The focus turns to Langford, B.C., next weekend as Canada hosts the penultimate stop of the Women’s Sevens Series. The Canadian women, who won Sydney and finished runners-up in Japan, currently stand third behind Australia and series leader New Zealand.

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