Wales too good for Canucks
May 30, 2009
Ryan Jones leads an inexperienced Wales side against Canada
© Getty Images
Wales survived a scare at the start of each half to overcome a spirited Canada at York University Stadium on Saturday.
An under-strength Wales side, featuring only five players with more than 10 international caps and two debutants in Scarlets pair Jonathan Davies at centre and Daniel Evans at fullback, came from 6-0 down after 14 minutes to lead 16-9 at half-time and then shipped an early second-half try before regaining their composure to run out winners.
It was another hard-fought victory against a side which had troubled the Welsh at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff last November before eventually going down 34-13. The margin was closer this time, with Wales failing to withstand early Canada pressure and going behind early to two penalties from full-back James Pritchard.
Wales found their rhythm and struck in the 17th minute when wing Chris Czekaj went over for the opening try. Scrum-half Gareth Cooper kicked over the top and when Canada wing Sean Duke came under pressure from centre Andrew Bishop, he spilled the ball to Czekaj in the corner, leaving the Wales wing to scoop up the ball and run over.
Fly-half Dan Biggar slotted home the conversion and added a penalty soon after as Canadian lock Mike Burak was sin-binned following an infringement at a ruck as Wales took a 10-6 lead.
Biggar added another after 27 minutes and restored the seven-point advantage with his fourth successful kick of the opening half after Pritchard kicked his third to leave Wales leading 16-9 at the break. Dwayne Peel replaced Cooper at scrum-half for the start of the second half but it was Canada who started brightest. A loose pass from Robin Sowden-Taylor inside the home side's half fell into Canadian hands, allowing Nanyak Dala to carry the ball into Welsh territory before finding scrum-half Ed Fairhurst who took out full-back Evans with a pass to Duke for the try.
Pritchard converted and the sides were level again at 16-16. Again Wales took time to find their feet but when they did they looked impressive as wing Tom James collected a high ball deep in his own half and broke through to the Canadian 22.
Biggar nearly touched down in the corner only for a saving tackle from Duke. The ball went back along the Welsh line and James popped up on the left to earn his reward with his first try for Wales. Biggar converted and added another penalty and Wales were back in front, 29-16.
The tourists allowed Canada back into it on the hour when, to the delight of the 8,450 crowd, Fairhurst finished off a great move from former All Black Kieran Crowley's side with a try, Pritchard converting to bring the score to 29-23. Wales grafted for the remainder of the game and thought they had a try when substitute front row Gareth Williams appeared to burrow over the line in the 72nd minute, only for a video review to disallow the score.
Wales still added points as Australian ref Matt Goddard brought the play back for a penalty in front of the posts which Biggar converted for the final score of the game.
Wales next travel to Chicago for a Test next Saturday against the USA.
Wales coach Robin McBryde was left disappointed by his team's performance despite the win. "Initial thoughts, satisfaction with the win, obviously, but I don't think we got the level of performance we were looking for," McBryde said afterwards. "Having said that I was very pleased with the level of discipline the boys showed.
"We just failed to get any momentum into our game. Canada were very effective in the breakdown and we're going to have to be a little more accurate in our play during the week before next week's game.
"I think we've got to look after the ball a bit better and it's down to us as regards presentation and being strong with the ball," he said. "Canada contested very well in that area and perhaps we were found wanting on occasions when we could have been stronger."
Canada coach Kieran Crowley rued a missed opportunity a week after letting Ireland off the hook in Vancouver.
"We didn't probably get enough quality set-play ball which was disappointing for us but having said that we scored a couple of good tries and our defensive effort was outstanding," the Canada coach said. "We gave away too many penalties and I think in that respect the referee probably had different interpretation than us but I'm pretty proud of the boys, they certainly dug in and gave it everything they had and put a lot of pressure on Wales.
"Wales to their credit kept us in our own 22 for 10 or 12 minutes, it seemed like an eternity, in the second half, and we had a couple of chance to clear it in that area and we didn't. So if we'd have managed that, gone back at them and put a bit more pressure on them who knows what might have happened."
Canada: James Pritchard (Bedford); Ciaran Hearn (Castaway Wanderers/Conception Bay), DTH van der Merwe (James Bay AA/Regina), Ryan Smith (Calgary Irish/Caledon), Sean Duke (University of Victoria); Ander Monro (Colorno), Ed Fairhurst (Cornish Pirates); Kevin Tkachuk (Glasgow), Pat Riordan (University of Victoria, capt), Andrew Tiedemann (University of Victoria), Mike Burak (Cornish Pirates), Luke Tait (Stade Montois), Jebb Sinclair (Castaway Wanderers/Fredericton), Adam Kleeberger (University of Victoria/White Rock), Aaron Carpenter (Brantford Harelquins).
Replacements: Mike Pletch (Velox Valhallians/Lucan), Doug Wooldridge (Cowichan RFC/Lindsay), Tyler Hotson (UBC Old Boy Ravens/Vancouver), Nanyak Dala (Castaway Wanderers/Saskatoon), Matt Evans (Hartpury College/Cowichan), David Spicer (University of Victoria), Phil Mack (James Bay AA/Victoria).
Wales: Daniel Evans (Scarlets), Tom James (Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Andrew Bishop (Ospreys), Chris Czekaj (Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Gareth Cooper (Gloucester); Duncan Jones (Ospreys), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), John Yapp (Blues), Bradley Davies (Blues), Deiniol Jones (Blues), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets), Robin Sowden-Taylor (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, capt)
Replacements: Gareth Williams (Blues), Craig Mitchell (Ospreys), Ian Gough (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Blues), Dwayne Peel (Sale), Nicky Robinson (Blues), Jonathan Spratt (Ospreys)
Firdose Moonda talks to Rob Louw about the difficulties of being a South African touring New Zealand at the height of Apartheid
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games