Canada hang on to end tour on winning note
June 21, 2007
Canada ended their brief rugby tour of New Zealand on a winning note, eventually subduing a stubborn New Zealand under-21 side 16-13 in Rotorua tonight.
The tourists, who wisely introduced their test strength bench during the second half, exerted enough control to recover from a disappointing opening spell to outlast their junior opponents.
Featuring 13 changes from the side that performed admirably despite being over run 64-13 by the All Blacks in Hamilton last weekend , Canada took first use of a stiff breeze but made little use of the advantage.
Despite facing the elements, New Zealand U-21 dominated territory and possession in the first spell though never threatened to score outside a skewed penalty attempt by Colin Slade in the third minute.
Illustrating a turgid contest in difficult conditions, Canada needed a man advantage before getting on the board in the 20th minute when No 8 Mike Webb burrowed over while Auckland prop Charlie Faumuina was in the bin for a professional foul.
A retreating Faumuina deliberately impeded a rare Canadian attacking foray five metres from the line four minutes earlier -- and on their second attempt at a forward drive over the chalk, referee Johnathon White awarded the try.
Ander Monro missed the conversion but added penalty four minutes from the break to extend an unsatisfactory spell with an eight-point buffer.
Canada appeared more comfortable into the wind, relying on their fresh forwards to tire the youngsters as lock Mike Burak and prop Kevin Tkachuk entered the fray.
Their more conservative approach paid off in the 67th minute when test loosehead Tkachuk propelled himself over in the left hand corner after captain Ed Fairhurst wisely opted to set a lineout drive after a penalty deep in the New Zealand half.
Canada appeared comfortably clear at 13-6 but when replacement pivot Lachie Munro, on for a struggling Slade in the 46th minute, ghosted across field before putting Ben Smith over in the corner the under-21s hopes were raised.
Munro added the sideline conversion to tie up the scores in the 73rd minute but the Aucklander turned villain from the restart when he dropped the kick cold before an offside teammate grabbed the rebound.
Reserve wing James Pritchard, Canada's first choice kicker, sealed the win by smoothly slotting a 30-metre angled effort before Canada held on grimly for the last five minutes.
Score from the rugby tour match played between Canada and New Zealand under-21 at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua tonight:
Canada 16 (Mike Webb, Kevin Tkachuk tries; Ander Monro pen, James Pritchard pen) New Zealand U-21 13 (Ben Smith try; Colin Slade pen, Lachie Munro pen, con). Halftime: 8-0