Canadian rugby sevens men win opener, women lose two of three at Sydney Sevens

SYDNEY, Australia — Cole Davis, in just his second sevens tournament for Canada, scored two tries Saturday as the Canadian men opened their Sydney Sevens campaign with a 24-14 win over Kenya.

Connor Braid and Phil Berna also scored tries for Canada with captain Nathan 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 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings, faced No. 12 France and the second-ranked Americans in Pool B play later Saturday. The U.S. opened with a 7-0 victory over France.

The Canadian women had a rough start in their half of the competition Friday, losing 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 drew unbeaten New Zealand, which has won all 15 games to date this season on the HSBC Women’s World Rugby Sevens Series.

No. 7 Ireland (2-0-1) won Pool B with No. 6 Russia (1-1-1) second and Canada (1-2-0) third.

The other quarterfinals have Russia against the third-ranked Americans, Ireland against No. 9 Spain and No. 4 Australia against No. 5 France.

Alena Mikhaltsova scored the winning try in the 11th minute to give Russia a 12-7 win. Bianca Farella’s converted try in the fifth minute had tied the game at 7-7.

Earlier, Canada squandered a 14-point lead and lost 15-14 to underdog Ireland.

It marked Ireland’s second-ever win over Canada, which had won 10 of 12 matches coming into Sydney. Series leader New Zealand was the only other team to beat Canada.

The Canadian women opened the day in style with Britt Benn and Farella scoring two tries apiece against Fiji. Canada ran up a lead of 36-0 before the Pacific Islanders scored two late tries at Spotless Stadium.

Julia Greenshields and Emma Chown also scored tries for Canada against Fiji. Captain Ghislaine Landry had two conversions while Breanne Nicholas had one.

Against the Irish, Landry opened the scoring with a run through the Irish defence for a converted try and 7-0 lead. After a sloppy passage from Ireland, Nicholas took a pass from Benn and bulled through an Irish player for the try. Landry kicked the conversion for a 14-0 lead.

But two late Irish tries reduced the Canadian lead to 14-10 at the half.

Speedy Hannah Tyrrell outpaced Landry down the flank for the first try before Louise Galvan capped a fine attack from close range.

An Irish try in the second half was waved off for a forward pass just before the ball was touched down under the posts. Ireland got the ball back after some fierce defence and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe touched down in the corner for a 15-14 lead.

Canada was driving for the go-ahead try as the clock wore down only to have Benn penalized at the breakdown in the dying seconds.

New Zealand tops the 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.

The women’s tournament runs Friday through Sunday with the men’s competition Saturday and Sunday.

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