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Canada 13-11 United States, Rugby World Cup Qualifier
Canada clinch Rugby World Cup berth
ESPN Staff
August 24, 2013

Canada defeated the United States 13-11 with an "ugly" performance at BMO Fields in Toronto to clinch a Rugby World Cup 2015 finals berth. The result secured a 40-20 aggregate victory that saw Canada maintain their proud record of competing in every Rugby World Cup finals.

Australian-born James Pritchard scored eight points for Canada, for whom Jason Marshall also scored a try, while Takudzwa Ngwenya crossed and Chris Wyles added two penalty goals for the Eagles.

Canada coach Kieren Crowley wanted an improved performance after the scrappy effort in winning 27-9 in the first leg of the tie in Charleston, South Carolina, but the Americans outplayed his team for long stretches - especially in the first half.

"We came out here wanting to make a statement showing how far we've come with Canadian rugby," said Pritchard, the country's all-time leading scorer. "Today we got a win, we did our job, we qualified for the World Cup, but it was anything but pretty. It's not too often we get to play these big games at a stadium like this. We'd been gearing it up for it so much this week that I think the occasion might have got to a few of us."

Crowley, who played in, and won, the first Rugby World Cup with the All Blacks in his native New Zealand, was puzzled why his players had produced a lacklustre performance.

"I'll have to review the film," he said. "We got our game going twice, I think, or three times, the kind of game we wanted to play. That try of Jason Marshall's I thought was an outstanding try, and he had the kind of game where he had a try to bring, but we only got our game going one other time.

"It's a cliche, but give the States credit. They threw everything at it and we're very disappointed. But like I say, we're going to the World Cup. It was ugly, but it was a win. We gutsed it out, and it was a test win, so you know, we're in the World Cup now."

Ngwenya opened the scoring for the United States with an unconverted try in the corner before Pritchard, Canada's leading career points scorer, reduced the deficit to two points with a penalty from halfway. Pritchard then put the hosts ahead when scoring a try to cap a well-worked move off a lineout. Wyles squared the ledger with the last kick of the first half, but the Eagles were unable to press in the second stanza and Marshall scored from the base of a ruck to give the hosts breathing space with less than 20 minutes to play. Wyles reduced the margin with a penalty kick, but he subsequently missed an opportunity to end his team's six-game losing streak against Canada when a penalty went narrowly wide.

"Our backs were against the wall," US coach Mike Tolkin said. "We knew we had to come out and prove something to ourselves, prove that we could play the game, and we did. We played with guts, with determination, we came out of the box strong, had Canada on the ropes for a while and spent a good deal of time in their territory, but we just needed to capitalize a lot more."

Canada face a tough task in the finals, against France, Ireland, Italy and a yet-to-be-decided European qualifier in Pool D, The United States still have an opportunity to qualify for the tournament hosted in England, playing a two-match series against Uruguay.

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