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Canada women suffer first rugby loss to Fiji but still reach Dubai quarters

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Canada stumbled in a first-ever loss to Fiji before rallying to defeat Ireland and the U.S. on Thursday on Day 1 of the season-opening Dubai stop of the HSBC Women's Sevens Series.

Fiji, which finished eighth in the overall standings last season compared to second for Canada, won 24-10 in the opening match of the tournament. Canada then defeated Ireland 17-7 and the U.S. 35-5.

The Canadians will face England (2-1-0) in the quarter-finals Friday.

"We played one minute of our plan game versus Fiji," said Canadian coach John Tait. "They are much improved but we had enough opportunities but didn't play as a team when it came time to execute.

"We played better against Ireland but had too many lapses on defence and really should have put them away well before we did. The U.S.A. match was really pleasing, obviously the score is nice but our technical execution and staying in game plan showed that this team can perform at a high level for the entire game."

Magali Harvey scored five tries for Canada on the day.

Fiji posted three wins to finish atop Pool B and will face France in the quarter-finals.

Russia, seventh in last season's standings, was the other surprise team Thursday. The Russians went 3-0-0 to win Pool A, hammering defending series champion New Zealand 33-7 along the way.

Australia went unbeaten in winning Pool C.

The other quarter-finals see Russia face Spain and Australia play New Zealand.

The Canadian Press

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