Canada now goes into the Cup quarterfinals against New Zealand at the Sydney Sevens. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canadian rugby sevens women lose two of three on opening day of Sydney event

SYDNEY, Australia — Canada squandered a 14-point lead and lost 15-14 to underdog Ireland on Friday at the Sydney Sevens.

It marked Ireland’s second-ever win over Canada, which had won 11 of 13 matches previously this season on the HSBC Women’s World Rugby Sevens Series. Series leader New Zealand was the only other team to beat Canada.

The Canadian women opened the day with a 36-12 win over No. 11 Fiji, with Britt Benn and Bianca Farella scoring two tries apiece.

But Canada (1-2-0) dropped a 12-7 decision to No. 6 Russia (0-1-1) to conclude the opening day.

Canada now goes into the Cup quarterfinals against New Zealand.

Canada, second in the overall standings, ran up a lead of 36-0 before the Fijians 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 seventh-ranked 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 off 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 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.

The Canadian men, who moved up to 11th overall after finishing tied for seventh last weekend in New Zealand, are in a pool with the second-ranked Americans, No. 12 France and No. 13 Kenya.

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