Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Looks to Deliver on Home Soil as World Sevens Series Comes to Vancouver

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Looks to Deliver on Home Soil as World Sevens Series Comes to Vancouver

Article excerpt

Canada looks to make mark at Vancouver sevens


TORONTO - After a frustrating 14th-place finish in Las Vegas, the Canadian rugby sevens team looks to deliver on home soil this weekend as the HSBC World Sevens Series makes its debut in Canada.

Liam Middleton's squad, currently 12th in the standings, has shown glimpses of brilliance this season but has yet to put it together in one tournament.

Las Vegas was a microcosm of the season, an emotional roller-coaster with more downs than ups.

After losing 33-7 to powerful South Africa, the Canadian men showed their mettle in rallying from a 26-7 deficit to tie the U.S. 26-26. That left the Canadians needing a win over Wales, a lower-ranked team it had beaten 32-21 in Sydney, to move into the elite Cup quarter-finals. Down 17-0 at the half, Canada tried to mount another comeback but fell short and lost 17-10.

"We were mentally a little beaten up after that," said Middleton.

Consigned to consolation play, Canada lost 19-10 to Russia, a team it had thumped by a combined total of 90-12 in its two previous meetings this season, before rallying to defeat England 24-7 in the Shield semifinal. The tournament ended in a 24-12 loss to Samoa, a team it could well face in the Olympic repechage qualifying tournament in June.

"Good pieces and then just some poor pieces," Middleton said of the Shield final performance against Samoa.

"We have to get better at mastering those one or two moments that push you from Cup semi to Shield semi," he added.

There were good points. Conor Trainor made some lung-busting runs. Phil Mack showed his guile and captain John Moonlight hit hard.

The margin of success is razor-thin on the World Series circuit. Canada went 1-4-1 and finished 14th. The Americans, who stand fifth in the overall standings, were 2-3-1 and finished fourth.

Admittedly the U.S. faced stiffer opposition in making the Cup semifinals. But the Americans, who also lost to South Africa in pool play, gave themselves a chance to finish high up the ladder by doing what Canada couldn't, beating Wales when it counted.

"When we just play our stuff and play our game, we're outstanding. It's just closing the bandwidth of playing well and playing badly, that we're really working hard at," said Middleton. …

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