Canada rally to beat Russia
June 8, 2011
Canada's Sean White leaps to claim the ball
© PA Photos
Canada booked a place in this year's Churchill Cup final with a 34-18 victory over Russia at Esher.
Kieran Crowley's side trailed 18-15 at the break but raised their game to shut out their Russian rivals and book their place in the tournament finale for the second successive year where they will face the England Saxons or Tonga.
Winger Justin Mensah-Coker and centre Conor Trainor crossed in the first half before fly-half Ander Monro, flanker Chauncey O'Toole and winger Matt Evans powered the Canucks to victory with fullback James Pritchard weighing in with three conversions and a penalty.
Tries from fullback Igor Klyuchnikov and winger Vasily Artemyev had put Russia, who will make their Rugby World Cup bow later this year, in control of the contest with fly-half Yuri Kushnarev adding two penalties and a conversion but they were unable to withstand Canada's second half fightback.
Canada, who entered the clash following an impressive 26-12 victory over Italy 'A' in their opening game, started well with O'Toole and Pritchard combining superbly for Mensah-Coker to touch down the opener but Klyuchnikov responded with a breakaway score after sweeping up a loose ball. Artemyev then put Russia ahead only for Trainor to level things up once more. A Kushnarev penalty gave Russia a narrow 18-15 lead at the break but they would not score again.
Mike Scholz's offload set up the night's best try for Munro just past the hour mark, with Pritchard again converting. O'Toole sauntered in for the fourth try and Evans' late score rounded off the win, Pritchard landing his third conversion to go with a first-half penalty.
Man of the match O'Toole said: "It feels pretty good to be in the final - that was our goal. It was a tough game and we knew that we would have to weather their storm and it was going to take a full 80 minutes against these guys."
Russia boss Kingsley Jones said: "I was very proud of them. They have worked hard in a short space of time. We are working on our strength and conditioning and just imagine how good we can be if we get fitter. Playing at that intensity for 80 minutes is a massive thing.
"It's a hard lesson for the lads to learn but it was a pleasing night in many ways. Of course we would like to win but we are realistic about where we are as a team."
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