WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Canada pulled off an exciting 26-15 upset over South Africa on Friday in its second game at the Wellington Sevens tournament.
Canada narrowly lost to Wales to open the tournament in New Zealand’s capital, but rebounded with a world-class effort to stun the Blitzbokke. Canada showed determination from the opening whistle as team captain Nanyak Dala stole the ball inside the South Africa 22-metre line and burst towards the goal-line.
After Dala was stopped just short of the try-line, speedster Sean Duke gathered the ball from the breakdown and scored under the posts to give Canada a 7-0 advantage just seconds into the match.
Not long after, Cornal Hendrickson responded for South Africa with a tally, but the conversion was missed and Canada held a 7-5 lead. Ciaran Hearn made an incredible individual effort to set up the next score as he drew two defenders and fed Nathan Hirayama a pass for Canada’s next points.
After Hirayama converted his own try, and South African Chris Dry scored an unconverted tally on the half-time whistle, Canada led 14-10 at the end of the first half.
Early in the second half, Dala made a brave tackle forcing him to leave the game with a blood-sub. The tackle, however, helped Phil Mack steal the ball and send it wide through the hands which set up Duke to score his second try of the game.
Pouring on the pressure, Canada’s forwards corralled the restart and Conor Trainor made a beautiful pass off the touch-line to John Moonlight who barged over the try line as the New Zealand crowd cheered on the looming upset.
South Africa scored another unconverted try at the end of the match, but it was too little too late as Canada ran away with a 26-15 victory over the Blitzbokke.
Duke’s two tries moved him into first place in the season’s scoring race with 17 tries so far this season.