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Canada defeats South Africa to win bronze at Vancouver 7s – CBC.ca

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Given the chance Canada made no mistake.

Justin Douglas scored his second try of the game with South Africa playing a man short due to a yellow card as Canada used a 26-19 victory to win the bronze medal on Sunday at the HSBC Canada Sevens Rugby tournament.

“With yellow cards you are hoping for at least one score,” said Harry Jones of West Vancouver, who celebrated the win with family and friends. “It’s a crazy game and you have to be switched on every millisecond or else it can go the other way.”

The bronze was Canada’s best finish at the Vancouver tournament since a seventh in 2018 and their best showing in the World Rugby Seven Series since 2018 when the men were fourth in Cape Town and Paris.

WATCH | Canada claims bronze over South Africa:

Watch Canada take on Australia in the bronze medal match at the HSBC World Men’s Rugby Sevens Series from Vancouver. 24:39

It also was Canada’s first win over South Africa in seven years.

New Zealand defeated Australia 17-14 in the gold medal game.

Canada and South Africa were tied 14-14 at the half. Douglas, of Abbotsford, B.C., gave Canada a 21-14 lead, then Jones sealed the win.

Nathan Hirayama of Richmond, B.C., had a try and three converts.

There were some anxious moments as time wound down and South Africa battled to tie the match, but the Canadian defence held.

WATCH | Hirayama proud of the bronze medal win:

Nathan Hirayama reflects on Canada’s 26-19 win over South Africa to claim the bronze medal. 1:21

“It’s all mental at that point,” said Jones. “The bodies are hurting but the crowd did it for us . . . pushed us in the final few minutes to hold on. It was amazing.”

Canada’s previous best finish in a tournament this year was a fifth in Hamilton, New Zealand.

“We’ve been on a path since last August,” said coach Henry Paul. “It’s going in the right direction. We’re still finding out a little bit about ourselves.”

Hirayama said the medal performance will boost the team as it prepares for this summers Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“There’s definitely a belief in the squad,” he said. “I think we’re growing and we’re taking good steps forward, leading toward the summer, which at the end of the day is our biggest goal.”

Heartbreaking semifinal loss to Australia

The bronze medal soothed the wound from a heart-breaking loss in the semifinal.

Canada gave up a pair of tries less than 30 seconds apart, then were denied a last-minute scoring chance in losing 19-14 to Australia.

WATCH | Canada comes up inches short of gold medal final:

Canadian fullback Theo Sauder’s last second try attempt was ruled just short as Canada fell 19-14 to Australia in the Rugby Sevens semifinals in Vancouver. 2:11

With Canada threatening to tie the match in extra time Theo Sauder was tackled at the goal line. An instant replay showed the ball touched down just before crossing the line.

“I wish my arm was one inch longer,” said the Vancouver native.

The Canadian used a 21-0 win over Spain earlier in the day to advance to their first-even semifinal at the Vancouver tournament.

Scrum-half Lucas Hammond had a big game, scoring the game’s first try and making a big defensive play when he knocked a Spanish player to touch at the goal line.

The Toronto native has just returned to the lineup after missing 14 months with a ligament injury in his foot.

“It was a tough year,” he said. “I was always focused on this moment and getting back into it.”

WATCH | Sauder wishes he had longer arms:

Theo Sauder evaluates his team’s loss in the semifinals, the Canadians fell to the Australians 19-14. 1:01

The Canadians won all three of their games during Saturday’s opening day of competition in the 16-team tournament. They started with a convincing 31-21 win over France, needed a couple late tries to upset Fiji 26-21, then pounded Wales 29-7 to finish on top of Pool B.

Both the Canadian men’s and women’s sevens teams have qualified for the Olympics but there are fears the spread of the coronavirus could delay or even postpone the Games.

The upcoming men’s sevens tournaments in London and Paris are scheduled to proceed, but events in Singapore and Hong Kong have been postponed from April to October.

Paul said there are plans for the men’s team to travel to Argentina for a series of games.

The scheduling of the final two tournaments of the season shouldn’t affect selecting the Olympic team roster.

“I don’t think there is too much fiddling around with the squad,” he said. “I’ll have some dilemmas but good dilemmas.”

The Vancouver tournament attracted 74,456 people over two days to BC Place Stadium.

WATCH | The full match between Canada and Spain:

Watch Canada take on Spain in the quarter-finals at the HSBC World Men’s Rugby Sevens Series from Vancouver. 25:27

Spectators came in a variety of colourful and imaginative costumes.

There were simple outfits like loud shirts decorated with pineapples and matching hats or black-and-red lumberjack jackets. Fuzzy onesies, some with hoods, were popular, as were red-and-white suits dotted with maple leaves. Brown sheep sat besides pink furry pigs near pandas. There were a group of Sasquatch wearing Canadian toques and pink flamingos lapping beer.

Flags from all the participating countries waved.

The tournament is being played at the same time other sports events around the world are being cancelled or postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix mentioned the tournament at the Vancouver COVID-19 update the previous day.

“I know people love that event and have been waiting for it to come to Vancouver, but if you’re sick, don’t go,” said Dix, a sports fan who has attended the event in the past. “Watch it on TV.”

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Great Start from Kikuchi, Jays Beat Rays – Bluebird Banter

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Rays 1 Blue Jays 4

Off the top, let’s just acknowledge how great Matt Chapman is with the glove. With almost anyone else at third base, this would have been a different game. In the sixth inning, it looked like Yusei Kikuchi was starting to lose it. He gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning. Then there was a bouncing ball up the third-base line, that Chapman pitched up, touched third and made an excellent throw to first for the double-play. The next batter hits almost exactly the grounder, a fair bit harder (103.1 MPH) that Chapman again grabbed (further) behind the bag and again made a great throw to first, getting the third out. In the seventh, he made a great catch on a popup hit behind third.

Kukichi had a terrific start. Going six innings, he gave up a solo homer, the two singles mentioned above, and one other single, just one walk with eight strikeouts. He was in charge all the way through. He may have had one more inning in him, but I was all for taking him out while things were good. Without Chapman, his last inning wouldn’t have been great.

On offence, two big swings did all the damage. Teoscar Hernandez crushed a no-doubter in the second inning, a two-run shot, 419 feet. And Santiago Espinal had his own two-run homer in the seventh. Not a no-doubter, just over the left-field wall, into the Jays bullpen, caught by David Phelps.

We only had 9 hits on the day. Teoscar (3) and Espinal (2) had 5 of the 9 hits.

Opener Matt Wisler pitched a scoreless first. After that, Ryan Yarbourgh pitched the bulk of the game, giving up 8 hits, 4 runs, and 1 walk without a strikeout, in 5.1 innings. I thought Kevin Cash left him in a little too long, but both teams have a lot of baseball ahead this weekend.

Vlad, Chapman and Moreno had 0 fors.

From the pen:

  • Trent Thornton gave up a hit and had a strikeout in the seventh
  • Phelps gave up a walk and got a strikeout in the eighth.
  • Cimber got the save (pitching his third game in a row). His fourth of the season. He finished it with a strikeout.

Jays of the Day: Kikuchi (.258 WPA), Teoscar (.189) and Espinal (.171). I’m giving Chapman an honourable mention, despite his -.076 WPA, for his glove.

No one had the Suckage number. Bo (-.087), Moreno (.080, but deserves points for helping Kukichi navigate the game) and Vlad (-.070) all came close.

Tomorrow we have a day game for Canada Day, a 3:00 Eastern start. Jose Berrios 5-4, 5.86 ERA, is hoping to bounce back from a terrible start. Corey Kluber (3-4, 3.45) gets the start for the Rays.

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Trial of WNBA star Brittney Griner begins in Russia – Al Jazeera English

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The trial of United States professional basketball player Brittney Griner, who was arrested in Russia in February after authorities found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage, has begun in Moscow.

Griner, a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) all star and two-time Olympic gold medallist, arrived at a courtroom on the outskirts of the Russian capital on Friday for the trial, in which she faces up to 10 years in prison.

Arriving at Khimki City Court in handcuffs, the 31-year-old athlete wore a T-shirt showing guitar icon Jimi Hendrix and was accompanied by three people. US embassy staff were in attendance at the proceedings. Cameras were not permitted in the court.

Two witnesses were questioned by the prosecution: an airport customs official, who spoke in open court, and an unidentified witness in a closed session. according to the state news agency RIA-Novosti. The trial was then adjourned, it said, when two other witnesses did not show up, and the next session was set for July 7.

Alexander Boykov, an attorney for Griner, told reporters outside court that “I wouldn’t want to talk on the specifics of the case and on the charges and to comment on our position on it because it’s too early for it.”

US Charge d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood told reporters at the trial that Griner told her she was “keeping the faith” and that she was doing “as well as can be expected”.

The US State Department has labelled Griner “wrongfully detained” and is negotiating for her release amid tanked relations with Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. Griner’s arrest came just days before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into the neighbouring country on February 24.

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On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the case was politically motivated.

“I can only operate with known facts, and the facts indicate that the eminent athlete was detained with illegal drugs that contained narcotic substances. There are articles in Russian legislation that provide for punishment for such crimes,” he told reporters.

“Only the court can pass a verdict.”

Griner’s detention has prompted concerns that Moscow could use the athlete to seek the release of a high-profile Russian in US custody, with Senator Tim Kaine warning the forward for the Phoenix Mercury could be used as a “negotiating chip”.

[embedded content]

Some of Griner’s supporters have called on the US to offer such a swap.

High-profile figures across the sports world have also called for Griner’s release, with NBA players wearing T-shirts that say “We are BG” at some games.

WNBA players, who are paid considerably less than their male counterparts, are often offered lucrative contracts by the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League to play during the US off-season.

Some have now left the Russian league, amid Griner’s detention and Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

US officials say Griner is one of two citizens wrongfully detained by Russia. Paul Whelan, a former US marine, has been held in Russia since 2018 after being convicted of spying. He has denied the allegation.

Russian news media have repeatedly raised speculation that she could be swapped for Russian arms trader Viktor Bout, nicknamed “the Merchant of Death,” who is serving a 25-year sentence on conviction of conspiracy to kill US citizens and providing aid to a “terrorist” organisation.

Others have suggested that she could be traded in tandem with Whelan.

After Griner’s hearing, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted: “We – and I personally – have no higher priority than bringing her and other wrongfully detained Americans, including Paul Whelan, home.

“We won’t stop working until they are reunited with their loved ones.”

Blinken, when asked Sunday on CNN whether a joint swap of Griner and Whelan for Bout was being considered, sidestepped the question.

“As a general proposition … I have got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home,” he said. But he said he could not comment “in any detail on what we’re doing, except to say this is an absolute priority”.

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Kevin Durant Has Suns As Preferred Team In Trade, Heat At No. 2 – RealGM.com

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Kevin Durant appears to have the Phoenix Suns atop his wish list following his trade request from the Brooklyn Nets. 

“Phoenix is the place he wants to go, I feel reasonably confident of that,” said Brian Windhorst on his podcast. “I think Miami is second. What I’m not confident over is that Phoenix is going to be able to give Brooklyn what they want. And I’m also not confident in what Brooklyn is going to prioritize.”

Tim Bontemps interjected that he expects Durant to end up with the Suns.

“If you look at these trade, there’s a nexus point between what the player wants and the team wants,” said Bontemps. “Kevin Durant would like to play for the Suns. We can all agree on that. The Phoenix Suns also have a lot of stuff the Brooklyn Nets would want. They’re not going to get Devin Booker in this trade, but they’ve got Mikal Bridges, they’ve got Deandre Ayton they can put in a sign-and-trade, and they have Cam Johnson.”

The Suns also control all of their own draft picks, which makes assembling a competitive trade offer for Durant easier. 

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