The first chapter of Canada’s new men’s rugby sevens book is off to a fine start.
The Canadians defeated Germany 24-5 in their first game on day one at the 2021 HSBC Canada Sevens at B.C. Place.
Featuring just four players with previous World Rugby Sevens Series experience, the Canadians hit the ground running, scoring four tries in the first half to seize the initiative.
It was Canada’s four veterans who led the way, with captain Phil Berna as well as Jake Thiel, Andrew Coe and Josiah Morra all pushing the pace of play right from kickoff.
Berna scored the games first try, grounding a loose ball in the German end zone after Canadian playmaker Brennig Prevost smartly kicked the ball through the German defensive line.
The referee took a long look at the replay with the help of the television match official, eventually ruling that Berna’s grounding of the ball was legitimate.
“It was half set, half off the cuff. I tapped the ball and I said I was going to be there, so I got there just in time in the end,” Berna said.
It was a set move that Berna’s old teammates, Harry Jones and Nathan Hirayama, had used to great effect more than once in recent years.
“I feel like I channeled my inner Harry Jones for a second. That’s definitely their play, but the new generation is here,” he laughed.
The crowd roared their approval for the start and would roar again three more times.
The Germans couldn’t retain possession off the ensuing re-start and eventually Prevost found the ball in his hands and in full flight, he side stepped a German defender to glide under the posts.
The third and fourth tries were scored by Morra, who showed off a powerful straight-arm on his first effort and then pure speed on the final tally, when he scooped up a loose ball right off the kick off and accelerated away from the scrambling Germans.
The second half wasn’t as smooth for Canada, as the Germans finally retained possession and the Canadians struggled at times with the pace of rugby sevens at this level.
Germany got a try through Manasah Sita, who once played for Zimbabwe. The powerful winger danced past the Canadian defence out wide.
Germany might have scored a second try to close the game, but John Dawe tried to pass the ball to a teammate in the end zone when he should have just touched it down.
Even so, German coach Damian McGrath, who coached Canada from 2016 to 2019, was pleased with his team’s efforts on the day.
“We’re a small tier three nation with a limited playing pool and we need to play up a level, just to compete. We were slow to get into that and we paid the price,” he said. “Not to take away from Canada who I thought were excellent, some great young players, did a great job.”
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