Canada on brink of World Cup qualification
August 22, 2013
The USA will need Taku Ngwenya to be at his best if they are to overcome the 18-point deficit © Getty Images
The USA will have to make up a 18-point deficit against Canada this weekend if they are to achieve the honour of being the first direct qualifier for the 2015 World Cup.
Canada took a giant leap towards rugby's global gathering when they defeated the USA 27-9 in Charleston, South Carolina last Saturday. It was a commanding performance from the Canucks as they crossed for three tries with Phil Mack, Harry Jones and DHT Van der Merwe all going over.
If Canada hold off a USA fightback, then they qualify as Americas 1 and join France, Ireland, Italy and Europe 2 in Pool D of the forthcoming World Cup. The loser over the two legs can still qualify for RWC 2015, but they will need to do it the hard way, playing Uruguay home and away for the right to qualify as Americas 2. They would then be put in the same group as South Africa, Samoa, Scotland and the Asia 1 qualifier.
It is not a matter of all or nothing in Toronto on Saturday but the pressure will be on the Eagles with coach Mike Tolkin hoping his well-established players such as Saracens' Chris Wyles and Biarritz's Taku Ngwenya find their best form. And Wyles is determined to right the wrongs of last weekend.
"Obviously we feel pretty dejected," he said. "Canada were more clinical in the important areas and fed off of our mistakes. They do that often, so fair play to Canada. We've got to take a good, hard look at ourselves. We've got to dig real deep and pull together. We're all pretty proud characters and we're going to be putting in everything we have into this next game."
And while Canada, who will be without hooker Ryan Hamilton for the match due to injury, have an 18-point advantage, their coach Kieran Crowley is quick to emphasise the match is far from over. He said: "Certainly we've got a lot of work to do before next Saturday, but I'm really happy with the way we stuck through it.
"We've got to have better ball security. Our defence was good, but we let them get too many easy yards and at the end of the game we were happy playing defence which isn't what we want. But, our guys stick it out well to the end."
Captain Aaron Carpenter added: "For next Saturday we're going to try and hold onto the ball more, we felt that they're getting the bulk of the possession. We want to hold onto the ball and be able to run through our phases and patterns and hopefully we'll be able to break them a little easier. We're trying to put them under pressure around that 10-phase mark."
While the two teams will battle on the field, there may be some envious eyes keeping watch on an important piece of silverware on the sidelines as the William Webb Ellis Cup will be in attendance at the BMO field.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham