Sports

Canadian women's rugby sevens team opens World Series season with three wins

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Canada opened the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series on a winning note Thursday, posting three wins to advance to the quarter-finals.

The Canadian women, who finished third overall on the circuit last season, will play No. 7 Russia on Friday in the knockout round. It marks the 21st straight tournament that Canada has advanced to the quarter-finals.

Canada needed a late Charity Williams try to beat Brazil 26-19 before downing Spain 27-7 to set up a match with England for top spot in the pool. The Canadians, who thumped Britain 33-10 to win Olympic bronze in Rio this summer, dispatched England 24-12.

"It was a bit of a rough start in the morning but we've been building over the three games so that's good," said Ghislaine Landry, who is captaining Canada in the absence of the injured Jen Kish.

"We have a bit of a rivalry with (England) and every game is anybody's, so it feels good to come out and put on another performance," she added.

The Canadian men make their Series debut under new coach Damian McGrath on Friday in Dubai, with games against Olympic and World Series champion Fiji, Argentina and Wales.

The Canadian women led Brazil 19-5 at the half on tries by Julia Greenshields, Natasha Watcham-Roy and Kayla Moleschi and two conversions by Landry. Brazil scored two second-half tries in three minutes to tie the game at 19-19 before Williams scored in the final minute for the Canadian win.

Greenshields scored two tries against Spain with singles coming from Landry, Williams and Bianca Farella.

Moleschi scored two tries and Hannah Darling and Breanne Nicholas, with her first try on the circuit, added singles against England.