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Canadian men and women both feel the heat at HSBC Sydney Sevens

SYDNEY, Australia — Looking to rebound after a painful loss to Argentina, Canada's men started well against Australia but conceded 17 second-half points in a 22-7 loss Friday at the HSBC Sydney Sevens. 

Playing in sapping 27 Celsius heat at Bankwest Stadium, the Canadians led 7-5 at the half only to see the Australians wrest control after the break.

Canada finished at the bottom of Pool A after losing 33-5 to Britain on Saturday. Dawson Fatoric scored the lone Canadian try, managing to stay out of touch as he launched himself over the line near the corner flag.

Earlier the Canadian men fell victim to a furious Argentina comeback, conceding three late tries to lose 24-19.

The game was the first for the South Americans since winning last weekend's tournament in Hamilton, New Zealand, where they edged the host All Blacks 14-12 in the final after beating Canada 29-14 in pool play.

The Canadian women went 0-3-0 in Pool B play, routed 34-7 by Fiji after losing 14-12 to the U.S. and 19-5 to Britain.

Both Canadian teams move into the consolation bracket.

The men's Cup semifinals will see France versus New Zealand and South Africa versus Fiji. In the women's Cup semifinals, it's the U.S. versus France and Ireland versus New Zealand.

The Fijian women, who rebounded from an opening 17-5 loss to Britain by beating the U.S. 17-14, scored twice in the first half with Canada reduced to six players and led 17-0 at the break.

Canada's Olivia Apps and Pam Buisa were both sin-binned for intentionally knocking down opposition passes. The Canadians were without the injured Krissy Scurfield for the match.

A Canadian handling error led to another Fiji try and a 22-0 lead. Alysha Corrigan finally put Canada on the board, capping off an attack sparked by some fine running by veteran Bianca Farella.

But Fiji kept coming, scoring two more tries with some stylish solo runs.

Fiji stands seventh in the overall standings after three women's events while Canada is 10th.

Brock Webster accounted for Canada's scoring against Australia with a try and a conversion.

Canada started well, getting within two metres of the Australian try-line from the kickoff. But the Australians staved off the threat.

Australian captain Henry Hutchinson was yellow-carded for a professional foul at the breakdown midway through the first half. Webster scored in the corner as Canada profited from the man advantage.

Canada's Josiah Morra was then yellow-carded for making contact with Australian Dietrich Roache in the air off the ensuing restart. 

James Turner scored in the corner with time winding down in the first half and Canada down a man. Turner scored a second, touching down in the corner, early in the second half to put the Australians ahead 10-7.

Australia penned Canada in its own half and the pressure led to a turnover and a yellow card for Canada's Matt Oworu. Darby Lancaster, a 19-year-old, and Hutchinson scored tries with Canada reduced to six men.

The Australians came to Sydney ranked seventh in the overall standings after four events. Canada stands 14th, down in the relegation zone.

The number of men's core teams will be reduced to 12 after this season.

The 15th-ranked core team following the 10th round in Toulouse in May will be relegated. The teams ranked 12th, 13th and 14th at the end of the Toulouse event will take part in a four-team relegation playoff together with the 2023 Challenger Series winner in the final stop of the season in London.

The relegation playoff will be round-robin format with the top two teams then playing a final. The winner will become the 12th core team on the 2024 Series, while the other three teams will enter their respective Regional Sevens Championships in order to qualify for the 2024 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series.

Trailing Canada 19-5 with under three minutes to play, Argentina appeared to have scored when speedster Marcos Moneta crashed over in the corner. But Josiah Morra caught the 2021 World Rugby’s Sevens Mens Player of the Year as he crossed the try-line and, with help from captain Phil Berna, prevented him from grounding the ball.

Rodrigo Isgro scored from the ensuing scrum to cut the margin to 19-12 with less than 90 seconds remaining. Isgro rose high to beat a Canadian and gather the restart, racing in for a converted try and a 19-19 tie.

Argentina won the restart again and laid siege on the Canadian try-line after a slashing run by Luciano Gonzalez. The ball went wide to Moneta for the converted try that completed the comeback with time expired.

Berna, Anton Ngongo and Webster scored tries for Canada, which led 12-5 at the half. Webster added two conversions.

The Canadian men wrapped up Pool A play against No. 10 Britain at the three-day tournament.

Britain rallied to defeat Argentina 26-19 after losing 12-7 to Australia in its opener.

In other men's play, Payton Spencer, the 18-year-old son of former All Black star fly half Carlos Spencer, scored two tries in New Zealand's 45-7 win over Uruguay

On the women's side, Buisa and Corrigan scored tries in Canada's 14-12 loss to the U.S. on Thursday night. Canada trailed 14-5 at the half, narrowing the gap on Corrigan's 13th-minute converted try.

The Americans, runner-up to New Zealand last weekend in Hamilton, are third in the women's standings.

Apps scored Canada's lone try in the 19-5 loss to No. 6 Britain, which led 14-0 at the half.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2023



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