CANADA HANGS ON FOR WIN
HERE'S THE MATCH VIDEO IF YOU MISSED IT - ENJOY!
Team Canada managed to hang on for 36 to 27 point win over visiting Tonga in their third Pacific Cup match. This was the second win over Tonga in the past year, probably vaulting Canada over Tonga in world rugby standings. It was a strange match, featuring tries in the opening two minutes in each half, a red card, three yellow cards and 22 points from Canada's James Pritchard.
It could not have been a worse start for Canada when Tonga scored from one recycle from the kickoff but by the first quarter, the hosts had clawed back to 6 - 7. When Moonlight was disallowed a very good try, being adjudged offside, Canada was starting to play with increased confidence. About 35 minutes in, all hell broke loose after Pritchard had been nearly decapitated in the tackle. The upshot was a red card to Tonga! Pritchard goaled for a 9 - 7 lead at the interval.
A 47 point outburst for the following forty minutes was definitely not on the books. For thirty of the forty minutes it was ALL Canada as Moonlight, Carpenter, Sinclair were outstanding in the forwards and the tight men toiled hard, fronting up on tackles and preventing momentum and generally, frustrating the Islanders. White provided accurate and fast service to Hirayama who was flashy with deft hands and feet, Blevins and Hearn were hard men in the center and Evans and Duke were pacey and dangerous finishers, along with Pritch being the dependable custodian, as well as a good "extra" in attack.
At 33 - 10 and Tonga down to fourteen men and two sinners in the bin, it should have been "shut the gate, by how many"?? But Ardron was deemed to transgress after just coming on and was "yellowed", partly balancing the numbers, a decision that may have been a result of justifiable frustration on the ref's part, particularly with Tongan infractions at the breakdown. This all happened soon after Evans was wiped out by a solid Tongan tackle. Regardless of the reason, unassailable lead, flow disruption, the tank becoming empty, whatever!
It all started to go desparately wrong for Canada and to their credit, the Tongans sensed it and played the kind of rugby with flair that they are reknown for and crossed for three tallies within ten minutes. At 33 - 27 the outcome appeared to be "in the balance" HOWEVER, as suggested by one pundit after the Fijian game, Canada would have dropped that outcome more often than not in the past BUT they did not. Today was to be the same, as they reapplied themselves to their pattern and structure was resumed to earn a penalty that opened the gap to 36 - 27 and in fact, were cheeky enough to kick to touch with an "injury time" penalty, in the hopes of adding the fourth and "bonus" tally. Well done, CANADA!
In summary, heaps of positives, a team effort, plenty to come away with, not the least being a severe mental lapse! Team Canada next takes on "Ireland" (minus their British Lions), next Saturday. The Irish just nutted U.S.A. yesterday by a 15 -12 scoreline. Another tough test match will further strengthen the mettle of this Canadian squad.