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Canada women's rugby sevens team look to bounce back as Series nears finale

05/13/2015 01:15 EDT | Updated 05/13/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - After a disappointing sixth-place finish on home soil, the Canadian women's rugby sevens team looks to rebound at back-to-back tournaments in London and Amsterdam as the Women's Sevens Series wraps up its season.

Canada stands second in the standings going into the Friday's start of play in London. New Zealand tops the standings having won all four events this season, extending its winning streak to 36 matches in the process.

While the Kiwis' goal is to finish the season unbeaten, the Canadian women are looking to consolidate their top four position and earn automatic qualification for the 2016 Olympics.

New Zealand can book its ticket to Rio by reaching the quarter-finals in London.

Canada and Australia were tied for second going into last month's event in Langford, B.C. Slumping Australia slipped to third after a disappointing seventh-place finish and the standings tightened up considerably with just 12 points separating second-place Canada (48) and seventh-place Russia (46).

"There's not a lot of room for error," said Canadian coach John Tait.

Tait remains confident that the Canadian women will bounce back and learn from Langford, where perhaps the pressure of playing at home for the first time took its toll.

"It just felt like some people were just trying to do much ... we got a little tunnel vision," he said. "It's a good lesson for us that (in) tight games against quality teams, we need to play better as a unit and attack the game plan as a set rather than individuals."

Captain Jen Kish returns from a knee injury in Atlanta that kept her out of the Langford tournament. Veteran Kelly Russell, however, misses out with a hand injury.

Mandy Marchak and Magali Harvey return to the squad. Marchak was not part of the Langford squad while Harvey, the IRB women's 15s player of the year in 2014, has not played since the opening leg of the season in Dubai.

"We've had a few intrasquad games since Langford and they've been training really well," said Tait.

Nadia Popov drops off the roster to join the Maple Leafs squad that will play in the Amsterdam Ladies Sevens Pier event, which runs alongside the IRB Amsterdam Sevens May 22-23.

Canada is in a tough pool in London with No. 6, England, No. 7 Russia and No. 12 South Africa. The Russians reached their first ever final in Langford while the English beat Canada in the quarter-finals en route to placing third.

The women will play at the Twickenham Stoop with the third-place game and the final set for Saturday at famed Twickenham Stadium at the end of Day 1 of the men's HSBC Sevens World Series event.

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