Canada have booked their place at the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2015 in Portugal after an emphatic 41-6 victory over neighbours USA in the second leg of a play-off to determine the final qualifier for the eight-team event.
With a dominant pack and impressive second-half performance at Westhills Stadium in Langford, British Columbia, on Friday the Canadians ran out convincing 65-29 winners on aggregate.
Canada will now take their place at the World Rugby U20 Trophy, which runs from 12-15 May in Lisbon, alongside hosts Portugal, Fiji, Tonga, Hong Kong, Georgia, Namibia and Uruguay and will be eager to better their seventh place finish in 2014.
“Anytime, you get any victories at the international level it’s quite an achievement,” coach Jeff Williams said. “We’ve got some momentum now and all the hard work is starting to pay off.
“But now our goal is to win the World Junior Trophy, which means there has to be a lot of studying involved and a lot of hard work involved. These guys are totally up for it. We’ll celebrate tonight and it’s a great victory and the boys should be proud, but come tomorrow, it’s back to work and we have to start preparing for the next tournament.”
Ben Cima had given the Junior All-Americans an early lead with a penalty, but from the moment second-row Reegan O’Gorman touched down in the sixth minute the Canadians were never behind again.
The visitors did cut the deficit to 8-6 as half-time approached when they capitalised on Karsten Leitner being in the sin-bin to gift Cima another penalty attempt, but number eight Luke Bradley spun out of a tackle to touch down and send Canada in leading 13-6 at the break.
Never stop believing
With momentum on Canada's side, and the visitors down to 14 with Darien Pickett in the sin-bin, they began to pile on the points in the second half with Theo Sauder's interception and run through the defence creating a try for hooker Patrick Finlay within minutes of the restart.
Full-back Andrew Coe ran in untouched for Canada's next try before centre Guiseppe du Toit kept the scoreboard ticking over with three penalties. The win, Canada's fourth this month after also beating the touring Romania under-19 side twice, was wrapped up with a second try for Finlay.
“When we came out at half-time, I thought we were very aggressive in the rucks and our scrummaging was outstanding,” said Williams. “With our scrum having so much success, we had good platforms to be able to attack with the ball and move it well. But overall, I thought we just played really well.”
In complete contrast to the second leg, Canada had edged the first encounter 24-23 at Shawnigan Lake School on Monday thanks to a stirring fight-back in the final 20 minutes saw them overturn a 23-11 deficit.
Tries from Paul Cuilini and Theo Sauder within a three-minute burst brought Canada back to within two points after du Toit was unable to convert either try. The centre, though, made no mistake when presented with a penalty to give Canada the lead for the first time in the match and a one-point advantage going into the second leg.
“The guys love playing for one another. They never stopped believing. There was so much positivity and once we got rolling, they never had any doubt that we were going to come back,” coach Williams said.
Tries from flanker Jacobus Germishuys and centre Ian Kinsly had given the Americans the start they had hoped for, with fly-half Cima converting both and kicking three penalties, but they were left ruing the match that got away.
Photo credit: Lorne Collicutt.
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