Canadian women defeat Ireland in opening match at New Zealand Sevens

HAMILTON, New Zealand — Canada captain Ghislaine Landry booted her 300th career conversion in a 24-7 win over Ireland at the HSBC New Zealand Sevens on Friday.

A late Phil Berna try then lifted the 12th-ranked Canadian men to a 26-21 victory over 10th-ranked Ireland under the hot noon sun at FMG Stadium.

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Landry came into the tournament with 299 conversions, second only to New Zealand’s Tyla Nathan-Wong's 379. The 31-year-old from Toronto already led all women on the circuit with 1,286 points coming into Hamilton.

Britt Benn's fourth-minute try set the stage for Landry's milestone kick

A converted try by Hannah Tyrrell tied it at 7-7 before Kaili Lukan, with the Irish down a player after Louise Galvin was sin-binned for taking out a Canadian without the ball, scored before the break for a 12-7 Canadian lead.

Charity Williams and Lukan added to the Canadian lead with second-half tries. Landry finished with two conversions.

"The end result was good but we'll look to keep getting better," said Landry.

France defeated Spain 31-7 in the opening Pool C match. Canada beat No. 7 Spain 35-5 later in the day before wrapping up group play against No. 5 France the next day.

The Canadian women came into the tournament fourth overall in the standings after three events on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. After a disappointing sixth-place finish in the season opener in Colorado, they were runners-up in Dubai and third in Cape Town.

The Irish women were 10th overall.

The Canadian men arrived on the back of placing 10th in Dubai and 11th in Cape Town.

After a tight opening, Terry Kennedy opened the scoring for Ireland with a swerving run through the Canadian defence for a 7-0 lead. Andrew Coe, back from injury, brought Canada even with Nathan Hirayama adding the conversion.

Jake Thiel capped off a flowing Canadian attack that featured a string of offloads for a 14-7 lead at the break.

A sloppy opening to the second half opened the way for Foster Horan to cut through the Toronto defence and tied it up at 14-14. The Canadians attacked back but were stymied by handling errors.

The Canadian pressure finally paid off in a Hirayama try on a set piece after an Irish penalty and Canada led 21-14.

Jordan Conroy booted the ball into the Canadian end after the restart, with the conversion tying it up at 21-12. Things looked bleak for Canada when Isaac Kaay was sin-binned for some a shove following the try.

Up a man, the Irish pressed for the winning try. But veteran Harry Jones pilfered a pass near his own goal-line and Berna eventually finished off the move with a try as the clock wound down.

"Unreal read by Harry," Hirayama said of the steal.

The win raised Canada's all-time record to 5-2-0 against Ireland, a new core team on the circuit. The Canadian tied No. 3 France 12-12 later in the day.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2020.

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