GOLD COAST, Australia — This was the match the Canadian women’s rugby sevens team were waiting for.
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The team had broken their opponent’s shutout streak and were ahead on the scoreboard by the end of the first half.
The second half was another game entirely.
New Zealand rallied from a 7-5 deficit by capitalizing on some key Canadian turnovers, and won the match 24-7 on the strength of a pair of tries from 2017 World Sevens player of the year Michaela Blyde.
“[It’s] a little disappointing,” Canadian captain Ghislaine Landry said. “We’ve been prepping for that game and we know what we need to do on the field but that obviously wasn’t the plan.
“We’ll go back and look at it but we really just have to get our minds ready for tomorrow.”
After beginning their Gold Coast quest with wins over South Africa and Kenya, the final match of pool play offered Canada the chance to win their group and avoid the world No. 1-ranked Australians in the semifinals.
Canadian coach John Tait says his team’s lack of composure in the second half was the difference in the result.
“We shot ourselves in the foot with a few unforced errors [and] a couple turnovers,” Tait said. “We just have to show more composure against New Zealand. They live off of turnovers and they score off of them all the time and they did that to us in the second half.
“We’ll take a lot from that — it’s better to learn that lesson today than tomorrow.”
Both the Canadians and Kiwis came into the match undefeated in Pool A play, but the Black Ferns had two dominant, shutout victories to their credit — 45-0 against Kenya and 41-0 over South Africa.
Canada on losing side of possession
Simply scoring on New Zealand — the try was scored by Julia Greenshields — was not enough for Landry.
“To be honest, that’s not what we are thinking about, we’re thinking about winning, we’re not looking to break any record or points against them,” she said. “It’s a game of possession and we didn’t keep it enough.”
Canada’s semifinal match goes Sunday morning in the Gold Coast (Saturday in Canada at 8:59 p.m. ET), but their opponent won’t be known until pool play finishes.
Australia is the most likely opponent, and face Fiji on Saturday night, while England takes on Wales.
Landry’s message to her teammates is simple: tomorrow is a new day.
“The great things about sevens is that you turn around and do it all over again,” she said. “The next two games are gonna be just as tough.
“We just got to get our heads right, rest the bodies, and come back stronger.”