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dudeabides 09-10-2011 01:49 AM

RWC: Tonga v Canada


Canada make their fashionably late arrival at the Rugby World Cup party on Wednesday as they go head-to-head with Tonga, their opponents having set the tone for a surprisingly competitive tournament to date by putting it up to the All Blacks in the opening game last Friday.

The Canucks, who made the quarter-finals in 1991, will go in to the game confident of kicking off their campaign with a victory. Firstly, they defeated the Tongans twice before in the game's showpiece event, in New Zealand in 1987 and eight years ago in Australia. In addition, they have taken great heart out of their two victories over the USA last month, results which look all the more impressive in light of the Eagles' impressive performance in defeat by Ireland on Sunday. The Canadians will also be buoyed by the fact that this will be Tonga's second outing in five days.

However, freshness might not be that much of an issue given that the Tongans have rung the changes for their meeting with the Canucks. And besides, they are feeling pretty pleased with themselves after causing New Zealand all sorts of problems in the second half of their clash in Auckland, so they will perhaps be grateful for the short turnaround and the opportunity to pick up where they left off at Eden Park.

Canada - Player to Watch: Jamie Cudmore is always a player worth keeping an eye - although not always for the right reasons. The Clermont lock has fallen foul of the citing commissioner no numerous occasions throughout his career but he is an immensely talented player all the same and should be a pivotal figure in this particular contest. He'll be desperate to make up for lost time, too, given that his appearance against Russia in June was his first for his country since the 2007 World Cup because of injuries and club committments.

Canada - Team News: Canada boss Kieran Crowley stays with the same 22 chosen for their recent match against the Australian Barbarians. Ryan Smith starts at inside centre, having come off the bench in both Tests against the Americans, while Ed Fairhurst is back at scrum-half. Ciaran Hearn and Adam Kleeberger are retained at right wing and blindside flanker respectively after coming on as replacements in Canada's first warm-up match against the USA on August 6.

Tonga - Player to Watch: Sona Taumalolo made a big impact after being sprunge from the bench against the All Blacks, scoring a try, putting in a massive hit on Dan Carter and generally just adding some dynamism to Tonga's play. The loose-head gets his chance from the start on Wednesday so expect more fireworks from him.

Tonga - Team News: Coach Isitolo Maka has made 11 changes, the most made by a Tongan side in World Cup history. Finau Maka is the only survivor from the pack which faced New Zealand but the skipper has been moved from openside to blindside flanker. Kurt Morath, Siale Piutau and Taniela Moa have all retained their places in the back-line, but they too have been redeployed. Morath switches to fullback, with Moa moving from scrum-half to No.10. Meanwhile, Piutau, who started on the wing against the All Blacks, takes up residence in midfield.

Key Battle: In what is likely to be a tight encounter, control of the breakdown is likely to prove decisive so the onus will be on the two side's respective back rows, Adam Kleeberger, Chauncey O'Toole, Aaron Carpenter of Canada and Tongan trio Maka, Sione Vaiomounga, Samiu Vahafolau, to secure quality ball for their backs. As ever with the Tongans, expect some big collisions.

Trivia: Canada have failed to win a World Cup match since their last meeting with Tonga at the 2003 World Cup, drawing once and losing three times.

Stats: Canada need 13 more points to have notched up 400 in this tournament's history.

Quote Unquote:

"He brings great experience, there is only him and DTH van der Merwe who play in the top leagues in the world - then we have three players who have division one in England and the rest of the guys are locals."
- Canada boss Kieran Crowley is grateful for the availability of Jamie Cudmore

"We have a lot of respect for them, they beat the USA and you can see the USA did well against Ireland. There are no easy games so we expect a very, very hard game."
- Tonga coach Isitolo Maka is expecting another tough day at the office

Prediction: This should be a very competitive game and we're tipping the Canadians to edge it on account of the fact that the Tongans have decided to rest a number of their key men, including Soane Tonga'uiha, who has been left on the bench.

dudeabides 09-14-2011 02:44 AM

That was a great match, Canada win 25 to 20, watch out French and All Blacks :D


A late try from Phil MacKenzie gave Canada a famous 25-20 victory over Tonga in Whangarei on Wednesday.

The Canucks had taken a 10-0 lead thanks to a try from lock Jebb Sinclair and a conversion and penalty from James Pritchard, but Tonga hit back with two tries from centre Siale Piutau and 10 points from the boot of Kurt Morath to lead 20-13. Canada, however, kept their composure and scores from number eight Aaron Carpenter and Esher wing MacKenzie sealed the win, ensuring they remain unbeaten against Tonga in three World Cup finals meetings and effectively eliminating the South Sea Islanders from the tournament.

Coach Kieran Crowley had challenged the Canucks to match Tonga's physicality, and they started impressively by dominating possession and territory. And it led to the first try after quarter of an hour as Glasgow back DTH van der Merwe slipped through some weak tackling to link with centre Ryan Smith and send lock Sinclair, who will join London Irish after the tournament, over. Bedford full-back Pritchard added the extras.

Fullback Morath missed a chance to respond as he failed with two straightforward penalties and he was punished as Pritchard put Canada 10-0 up after 25 minutes with a penalty of his own. Canada lost flanker Chauncey O'Toole to injury, but Tonga were the ones really struggling as an endless stream of handling errors blighted their attacking ambitions.

They finally held on to the ball long enough to cause Canada problems in the shadows of half-time, with over 15 phases of play freeing the space for centre Piutau to ghost over, with Morath knocking over the conversion. Tonga were level shortly after the break as a Morath penalty made it 10-10, but Pritchard responded instantly with his second penalty to re-establish the Canadian lead.

Tonga hit back as a simple midfield switch saw Piutau unlock the Canadian defence to stroll over for his second try, Morath was again on target with the extra two points before his second penalty gave the South Sea Islanders a seven-point advantage heading into the final quarter.

The see-saw nature of the contest continued as Canada responded with their second try. Replacement Conor Trainor made the initial yards for number eight Carpenter to burrow over, although Pritchard's conversion miss left them behind by two points. But the miss did not prove costly as clever build-up cleared the way for Esher wing Mackenzie to race over with six minutes to play.

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