Josiah Morra scored at the final whistle to give Canada a 12-5 win over Kenya in consolation play Sunday at the Los Angeles Sevens.
The Canadian men, who stand 14th in the overall HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings, advanced to face No. 13 Spain which edged the seventh-place U.S. 14-12 earlier in the day in the consolation bracket.
After some resolute defence kept the Kenyans out early in the ninth-place quarterfinal, Jack Carson finished off a break by Morra for a 5-0 Canada lead at halftime.
Kenya tied it up with two minutes remaining with Alvin Otieno finally breaking through a stubborn Canadian defence.
The L.A. tournament is the sixth stop on the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Next up is the March 3-5 Canada Sevens, for both men and women, in Vancouver.
It was a short turnaround for the Canadian men who finished play late on a weather-delayed Saturday schedule.
Canada finished last in a competitive Pool B after losing 12-0 to No. 2 South Africa and 22-0 to No. 9 Ireland before rallying to beat No. 11 Uruguay 26-10.
The Canada-Ireland game was interrupted by one of two lengthy delays due to the threat of lightning.
Kenya, led by former Canada coach Damian McGrath, had won four of the previous five meetings with the Canadian men. McGrath, an English native, has also coached Samoa and Germany.
Down in the standings, the Canadian men are in danger of relegation.
The World Series is reducing the number of men’s core teams for the 2024 season from 16 to 12, to equal the number of women’s teams and align with the Olympic competition structure.
The 15th-ranked core team following the 10th round in Toulouse on May 12-14 will be relegated. The teams ranked 12th, 13th and 14th at the end of Toulouse will enter a four-team relegation playoff together with the Challenger Series 2023 winners at the 11th and final round of the Series in London on May 20-21.
The relegation playoff will be a round-robin format with the top two teams meeting in the final. The winner becomes the 12th core team on the 2024 Series, while the other three teams will enter their respective Regional Sevens Championships in order to qualify for the 2024 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series.
The top four men’s and women’s teams at the end of the season will qualify automatically for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Coming into L.A., the New Zealand men topped the table, ahead of South Africa, Samoa and France.
The Canadian women currently stand 10th in the standings.
The Canadian Press
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