Canada won their first ever HSBC World Rugby Sevens series tournament after beating USA 26-19 in a heart-stopping final in Singapore.
The Canadians raced ahead into a 19-0 lead but USA scored twice through Perry Baker in a thrilling finale. A try in the dying moments from Lucas Hammond sealed the win for Damian McGrath's side.
Shocks and upsets were the order of the day as Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand all crashed out on at the quarter-final stages of the tournament on Sunday.
Elsewhere England won the bronze medal match at the National Stadium after beating Australia 14-12 while Wales beat Scotland 24-12 to win the Challenge Trophy.
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What started out as promising for Australia when John Porch opened the scoring in the first semi, soon turned sour as both sides looked to book their first final of the season. Try scoring machine Perry Baker scored first for USA, after which Tomison crashed over in the corner. Martin Iosefo then crossed to make it at the break 21-7 at the break. Tomison scored another before Danny Barrett showed why he is one of USA’s most potent weapons as he crashed over, before Perry Baker put the game out of sight, finishing 40-7 in favour of Mike Friday’s side.
Canada and England was a close affair for most of the first half and there was only 10 seconds left on the clock when Ollie Lyndsey-Hague broke a tackle in midfield to streak over and make it 5-0 to the English at half-time. But Canada, fortified with mental steel and momentum from their epic quarter-final win over New Zealand, hit back through Isaac Kay and the magnificent John Douglas with Mike Fuailefau putting the game beyond England’s reach. It finished 17-5 with Canada reaching their first final since Glasgow 2014.
Sevens World Series Standings after Round 8 in Singapore
Fiji started their winning streak in Hong Kong and it remained intact as they ran out for the first quarter final of the day in Singapore against the much-fancied USA. It was the Eagles who struck first with good work putting Ben Pinkleman over in the corner. It was all USA but a big hit by the Fijians dislodged the ball and allowed Waisea Nacuqu to sprint clear against the run of play. But, moments later, Dream Teamer Stephan Tomasin burst through the gap to re-establish the momentum for USA and leave them 12-7 at half-time.
It was Tomasin who barged over again to get his 20th try of the season to extend the gap in the second period, before Pinkleman picked up his second to make it 24-7 with two minutes left. Fijian rookie Josua Vici made a rare venture into the American half to score before Isake Katonibau went over, but it was too little, too late and it finished 24-19 with USA progressing to the semi-finals.
USA coach Mike Friday was in bullish mood after the final whistle: “We’re getting closer and closer and fuel all the anger we’ve had over the last semi-finals. We know no-one wants to play us and we know we can beat anybody on our day but we need to have our attitude spot on.”
Australia were also unbeaten going into the last eight on Sunday, but were at a major disadvantage after losing leaders James Stannard and Ed Jenkins to injury on day one. South Africa were still smarting from losing to England on Saturday, but Siviwe Soyizwapi got them back on the front foot as he showed amazing pace to open the scoring. Cecil Afrika soon followed with a try and it was looking ominous for the Aussies until Simon Kennewell crossed to make it 10-7 at half time.It was energy sapping defence for Australia in the second half as the Blitzboks pummelled the line and eventually captain Philip Snyman breached the gap.
But soon the tables turned. Tom Lucas showed the leadership his captaincy required as his team looked dead and buried as he stepped up to sprint down the pitch and score in the corner. With just seconds left after the restart, South Africa weren’t helped when Dylan Sage binned for a deliberate knock-on. With the clock going red, Australia kept their composure, moved the ball around and eventually made space for Lachie Anderson to cross in between the posts to level and John Porch’s conversion made it 19-17; the Blitzboks going out at the quarter final stages for the first time this season.
“I’m pumped with that result,” said Lucas after the final whistle. "We’re pretty banged and bruised as a squad so I’m proud of that performance out there.”
With upsets being the order of the day so far, Canada’s Nate Hirayama endeavoured to continue the trend as he crossed to opening the scoring against New Zealand in the third quarter final of the day. New Zealand weren’t ruffled as Regan Ware collected in midfield and scored to level. The Canadians went straight back and after a great break by Douglas and some fantastic ball skills by John Moonlight, Hirayama, who last week scored his 1000th point for Canada was at the end of a fantastic team move.
The second half saw Hirayama score his hat-trick, with Fuailefau also getting on the scoresheet while New Zealand could only fire back through Trael Joass. 26-14 it finished, with Canada on the way to the semis.