Canada 28-22 US Eagles, Toronto, August 6, 2011
Canada too good for USA
August 6, 2011
Canada beat the United States 28-22 in their Rugby World Cup warm-up clash at the BMO Stadium in Toronto.
Tries from lock Jebb Sinclair, winger Phil Mackenzie and scrum-half Ed Fairhurst, along with the boot of James Pritchard propelled the Canucks to victory in the first of two back-to-back Tests with their North American rivals. First half tries from winger Taku Ngwenya and flanker Todd Clever - who crossed for another late in the game - gave the Eagles the lead at the break but they were unable to hold off the home side's fightback.
Canada began strongly and soon had the Eagles scrambling with a sly pass from Fairhurst finding Sinclair who burst outside Ngwenya only to be pushed out of bounds as he stretched for the line. But he was rewarded seconds later when the Eagles tried to take a quick lineout but fumbled the ball straight to Canada, allowing Sinclair to cross for an easy try that was converted by Pritchard.
Canada's shortcomings at the breakdown led to a penalty for Eagles fly-half Nese Malifa and the home side's hopes took another blow soon after with an injury to fullback Matt Evans who was replaced by Ciaran Hearn.
The USA looked to turn the screw and a high ball from Malifa proved a little too slippery for Pritchard, who fumbled the catch. The Eagles turned the ball over at the ensuing ruck and spread the ball wide to the hands of Ngwenya who split the defence of DTH van der Merwe and Sinclair to cross over for his team's first try. Malifa hit the extras and the Eagles led for the first time in the match, 10-7.
Handling errors plagued Canada's efforts to give the ball some air but the USA were not so wasteful with Clever exploiting time and space out wide to touch down in the corner for the first of his tries. Canada had the last say in the first half with Pritchard kicking a penalty to reduce the arrears to five points as the sides headed to the tunnel.
Early in the second half, Canada trapped the Eagles in their own end with some fierce defence. In what should have been a simple play from the ensuing ruck, a bad pass from Nic Johnson to Malifa resulted in an in-goal fumble and Mackenzie dived on the loose ball to score before Pritchard landed the conversion to give his side the lead.
Malifa was replaced shortly afterwards by Rolan Suniula, leaving Andrew Suniula with the kicking duties. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the older of the Suniula brothers missed a penalty from almost directly in front. Pritchard then added an extra three points for Canada before the game really opened up for the home fans.
From a scrum inside their own half just before the hour mark, Aaron Carpenter picked the ball from the base and popped it to Fairhurst as he was tackled. The scrum-half found space and ran 60 metres, toying with the idea of kicking before dipping his head and barging into Eagles fullback Blaine Scully and smashing over in the corner.
Clever scored his second try of the day from some quick hands from Inaki Basauri to close the gap to 25-22, but another penalty from the boot of Pritchard sealed the final score for Canada.
Despite elation at winning in front of the home crowd, Canada coach Kieran Crowley knows his team must improve from Saturday's performance, which was at times riddled with errors.
"It's a win," Crowley said. "It's a test match and today Canada beat U.S.A. Obviously the performance wasn't exactly how we would have liked it, but any test match is a challenge and a battle and I'm very pleased with the way our guys stuck to it in the second half."
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