South Africa, Australia win again at Dubai Sevens while young Canada teams struggle

·3 min read

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — South Africa rallied to defeat Australia 10-7 on a late J.C. Pretorius try Saturday and win the Dubai Sevens, the second event of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 season.

It marked the Blitzboks' ninth overall tournament triumph — and third straight — in Dubai. South Africa has now won four events in a row on the World Series.

The Blitzboks, who went unbeaten in winning Vancouver and Edmonton events in the truncated 2021 World Series season in September, defeated the U.S. 42-7 in last weekend's Dubai final.

Australia's women also won for the second week in a row, defeating Fiji 15-5 in the final. Australia, which won all 10 matches in the desert, won 22-7 in the first Dubai event.

The two back-to-back Dubai events were played without the New Zealand men's and women's teams and the Samoan men due to pandemic-related travel issues.

It was another tough tournament for Canada with the women finishing eighth and the men 12th. The Canadian women also placed eighth last week while the men were 11th.

Saturday's men's final was a nail-biter with both teams coming into the final unbeaten.

South Africa went ahead in the first minute on a Siviwe Soyizwapi try but trailed 7-5 at the break after a Corey Toole converted try. Pretorius broke a tackle to put the Blitzboks ahead in the 14th minute but needed some last-minute defence to hang on to the lead.

Australia came close in the dying seconds but six-foot-two Solomone Vosaicake could not hang on to Dietrich Roache's low off-load near the South Africa try-line.

South Africa beat Kenya 31-19 and France 19-12 Saturday en route to the final. Australia defeated Ireland 24-12 and Argentina 40-0.

Argentina won the men's bronze Saturday, defeating France 38-21 to win consecutive medals for the first time since 2018. The Pumas downed Fiji 19-12 in last week's bronze medal match.

France's women also repeated as bronze medallists with a 28-5 victory over Russia. The French blanked the Russians 40-0 in the third-place match last weekend.

Canada fielded young sides in Dubai following extensive turnovers in personnel after the Tokyo Olympics where the men finished eight and the women ninth.

Eight of the Canadian women were making their World Series debut in Dubai while eight members of the men's squad arrived with two or fewer World Series events under their belt, including four debutantes.

After losing to the U.S., Australia and Kenya on Day 1, the Canadian men found themselves having to face Olympic champion Fiji to start play Sunday. The Pacific Islanders went 1-2-0 Friday, missing out on the Cup quarterfinals for just the second time ever,

The Canadians lost 33-19 to Fiji with Josiah Morra, Jarvis Dashkewytch and Elias Ergas scoring tries in a losing cause.

Canada then lost 21-12 to Japan in the 11th-place playoff with Nicholas Allen and Brock Webster scoring tries. The Canadians won 22-14 when the two sides met last week in the same match.

Canada's women lost 52-0 to Australia and 12-10 to Spain on Day 1. They were edged 14-12 by Russia on Saturday before rebounding to down Brazil 17-12. The tournament ended in a 26-12 loss to Ireland in the seventh-place playoff with Asia Hogan-Rochester and Chloe Daniels scoring tries in a losing cause.

The Canadian men, 11th in the standings after two events, went 1-9-0 over the first two tournaments while the women, 10th in the standings, were 2-8-0.

The World Series resumes Jan. 21 with a joint men's and women's event in Malaga, Spain.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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