DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Canada finished a disappointing sixth Friday as Australia, beating a surprising Russian rugby team, won the season-opening Dubai stop of the HSBC Women's Sevens Series.
After winning two of three games Thursday, the Canadians lost 17-12 to England in the quarter-finals to open play Friday. That dropped them into the consolation round and, after a 21-12 win over Spain, they were beaten by 24-19 in extra time by defending Series champion New Zealand in the Plate final.
The Canadian women, who placed second in the overall standings last season, came to the tournament with a long injury list. Ghislaine Landry, Ashley Steacy, Hannah Darling, Natasha Watcham-Roy, Bianca Farella, Sara Kaljuvee, Elissa Alarie and Nadia Popov were all unavailable.
They were missed as Canada finished outside the top four for only the second time in the last 14 events. It also marks the second time in the last four Series events that Canada has been eliminated in the Cup quarter-finals. The Canadian women had made the semifinals in the previous 10 straight tournaments.
There were warning signs Thursday when Canada opened with a first-ever loss to Fiji, which finished eighth in the overall standings last season.
Kelly Russell and Karen Paquin scored tries for an early Canadian lead against New Zealand in the Plate final but the tide turned after Megan Lukan was yellow-carded. The Black Ferns scored 19 straight points over the next three minutes.
Trailing 19-12, Canada sent it to extra time on a Kayla Moleschi try. But New Zealand, which has never lost to Canada, scored via Gayle Broughton three minutes into extra time.
Paquin was named to the tournament dream team.
Russia, seventh in last season's standings, went 3-0-0 to win Pool A Thursday, hammering defending series champion New Zealand 33-7 along the way. The Russians blanked Spain 24-0 in the quarter-final and England 19-12 in the semifinal before falling 31-12 to Australia in the final.
Unbeaten Australia beat New Zealand 15-12 and France 26-0 en route to the final. England placed third, beating France 10-5 in extra time in the bronze medal match.
Magali Harvey scored two tries in Canada's loss to England, upping her tournament total to seven.
The stop was the first of four on the Women's Sevens Series in a landmark season that includes the Rio Olympics.
The focus switches to Sao Paulo, Brazil, in February before stop in Atlanta and Langford, B.C.
The Canadian Press