RIO DE JANEIRO — Canada's women's rugby sevens team will play for an Olympic bronze medal after losing 17-5 to Australia in semifinal action Monday.
The top-seeded Aussies, the tournament favourites, will face No. 2 New Zealand in the gold medal match later Monday.
The third-seeded Canadians meet No. 4 Britain in the bronze medal game. The Brits, who lost their semifinal 25-7 to New Zealand, defeated Canada 22-0 to conclude the preliminary round.
"We came here for a medal," Canadian coach John Tait said. "It's not the one we wanted but there's still a chance for one."
The Canadians needed to bring their 'A' game to threaten the Aussies. They didn't.
Tait pointed to a breakdown in defence that led to three Australian linebreaks and two scores.
"They're a dangerous team," he said. "You give them that much time and space and they get open and running in the field, they're pretty impossible to stop."
Australia took a 12-0 lead into halftime on two Emilee Cherry tries, including one with no time remaining. The Australians then made it 17-0 on a Chloe Dalton try before 19-year-old Charity Williams scored Canada's lone try in the final minute.
The Canadians came into the semifinal on the heels of a 15-5 quarter-final victory over France and a 2-1-0 pool record that included easy wins over Japan and Brazil and an error-filled loss to Britain.
Australia downed Spain 24-0 in its quarter-final and went 2-0-1 in pool play, needing a last-minute conversion from Dalton to tie the U.S. 12-12.
The Australians were the class of the Women's World Series this season, winning three of the five events and finishing second and third in the other two. Their record on the circuit was 27-3 with two of the defeats at the hands of England. The other setback was a 29-19 loss to Canada in the final of the last event of the season in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
Australia won two earlier meetings with Canada on the circuit.
England competes on the World Series but becomes Britain at the Olympics.
Canada came into the tournament as a medal contender after winning last summer's Pan American Games and finishing third on the world circuit this season. The Canadians were second in the World Series in 2014-15.
Women's rugby is making its Olympic debut, while men's rugby returns for the first time since 1924 when the U.S. won the 15-a-side tournament.
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