McGrath's Men Finish 4th: BCRN 7s Correspondent Reviews Canada's Peformance
by BCRN 7s Correspondent
Canada – South Africa Review
Pool D will test Canada from start to finish on Day 1 in Cape Town.
On form alone the prospect of heading to the Cup round for Canada on Day 2 is challenging – Fiji stands 4th after Dubai and was in brilliant form in the desert; Samoa are presently 6th and with Sir Gordon firmly at the wheel now they certainly look to be better than last season already; and Wales are in 13th place right behind Canada and ended up 3rd in their pool at Dubai which included Fiji, Australia and Russia.
The weather forecast for the week looks warm – 33 degrees Thursday, 31 degrees Friday and 24 degrees on Saturday with some off shore wind to cool things down slightly. On Day 1 the wind would prove to be a factor.
Samoa went to the Cup round in Dubai finishing second in their pool behind New Zealand. They lost 26 – 10 to Champions South Africa in the Cup quarters and then went on to beat Scotland in the 5th place playoff before losing to Australia and ending up in 6th place for the tournament so clearly they are a team to take very seriously.
Last year in Cape Town they were dreadful – but that was then and Canada should not expect a repeat of their performances then.
Canada started well in the first game of the day in Cape Town. It’s usually a good time to play the island teams first thing in the morning but Samoa was wide awake for this one and they had to be as we jumped on them right from the start. And then without explanation we let them back into the game just before the half-time siren.
Moonlight scored at the midway point of the second half and Hirayama converted to give us a slight lead and then with only minutes to go Samoa pulled this one out of the bag – the result and the way the game finished should make everyone on our team really annoyed – there are always close contests in sevens but when you have a team by the throat then pressure must be increased not released – Samoa got away with one and Canada should be severely annoyed at themselves.
Canada 17 v Samoa 19
Not a great start to this one but we came storming back before the half ended and had the lead going into the break even though it was only by a few points.
After half time Fiji got careless and Douglas scored a couple of tries and now we were in a more commanding position as they had to chase the score-line.
Sometimes there is no explanation as to why Fiji performs so indifferently in a game and then so brilliantly in another contest. Things just didn’t go their way in this one but credit our guys – they ensured that the trend continued right until the final whistle this time and closed out a very valuable and satisfying win.
Canada 22 v Fiji 14
Momentum is everything sometimes and in Canada’s last game on Day 1 in Cape Town there was no way that we were going to let this game slip from our grasp.
Once again Canada jumped on their opponent right from the opening whistle and had three tries before five minutes had passed.
Wales were clearly frustrated and began throwing substitutes at the game which basically had no affect at all and right after the extended first half Harry Jones and Pat Kay rubbed salt into the event and Canada headed to the Cup Round on Day 2. Well done boys - France tomorrow!
Canada 32 v Wales 14
Canada started Day 2 in Cape Town with authority, pressure and immense power – Fuailefau, Hirayama and Douglas scored in the first half and it was 21-0 at the break.
That trend continued in the second half and this time Hirayama who had struggled with the wind on Day 1 slotted home all his conversions in convincing fashion – and when you are chasing the game as France were - each conversion seems to put another nail in your coffin.
After half-time Braid scored and then Mullins added another as France began to throw substitutes at the game but it was a futile gesture and despite scoring and converting a try well past the siren France were never in this game – Canada was just too good for them in every phase of the contest.
Canada 35 v France 7
Canada were ahead 12 – 7 at the half way point of this tense game against Argentina but the relentless and busy Argentina team have a attractive habit of applying pressure to every situation.
That said Canada started well as Kay scored and Hirayama converted almost immediately.
Argentina counter punched with a try and conversion before Braid touched down before the half.
The second half was more pressure and Argentina made the most of it by scoring their second try which they converted.
It was all they would need to send them into the Cup Final and sadly Canada dropped out of the final round.
Either way - the second half was a battle royal as each team pounded each other looking for a submission hold – our boys stood firm and in frustration the game ended with two points between them.
But not all has been lost in any way at all – we still have a chance to gain more valuable points against South Africa in our last game in the Cape – plus when reviewing the tournament over all Canada played some of the most prolific teams on the circuit with the widest range of talent and styles.
Argentina is a far cry from Fiji in approach and style in the short game; similarly France and Samoa not to mention Wales – but we challenged them all with our approach and developing style and whatever unfolds against South Africa the staff and players should be fairly pleased at what has developed in the Cape.
Remember too – last year at this time we were going home with 3 points!
Canada 12 v Argentina 14
In their final game of the tournament Canada played with passion and huge determination – and we were brilliant in the second half especially Nathan Hirayama who took Canada within 2 points of the eventual winners South Africa.
The goat of the contest was in fact the referee who got more calls wrong than is tolerable in a game of this magnitude.
High tackles by South Africa on the far touch line went unattended during our yellow card to Kaay and then two significant decisions at the breakdown against Canada were pure frustration on the TV screen. And in the end after the restart which Canada took beautifully Harry Jones looked at the referee in bewilderment when a call made against him was ridiculous and ended the game.
Despite the frustration Canada had a good amount of possession and challenged the South Africans at every opportunity – but in the end we left it too late and the usual stars for South Africa rescued them from defeat.
Canada end up forth in Cape Town and earn some very valuable Series points.
Well done Canada – a lot to be encouraged by certainly!
Canada 17 v South Africa 19
Phil Berna UBC Thunderbirds (Vancouver, BC)
Connor Braid James Bay AA (Victoria, BC)
Admir Cejvanovic Burnaby Lake RFC (Burnaby, BC)
Justin Douglas Abbotsford RFC (Abbotsford, BC)
Mike Fuailefau Castaway Wanderers (Victoria, BC)
Lucas Hammond Toronto Nomads (Toronto, ON)
Nathan Hirayama Unattached (Richmond, BC)
Harry Jones, Captain Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
Isaac Kaay University of Victoria (Kamloops, BC)
Pat Kay Castaway Wanderers (Duncan, BC)
John Moonlight James Bay AA (Pickering, ON)
Matt Mullins Queen’s University (Belleville, ON)
Liam Underwood Balmy Beach RFC (Toronto, ON)