The final match of Canada's Men's 15s fall tour ended in defeat to the New Zealand Maori 32-19
Canada Head Coach Kieran Crowley said his team was in with a shot in the match - the Maori scored at the final whistle.
“We were only ten points behind at halftime," said Crowley. "In the first half we just gave away points through our kicking game, we put a few in the air in the wrong position, and we put ourselves under pressure. We talked about that at halftime, and straight away we saw some gains, and the guys really took it to them. It was disappointing that they scored that try at the end, but our boys performed pretty well.”
In fact it looked as if Canada would keep the Maori away from the tryline in the second half, and they did until the final seconds.
“We were pleased in one way, but also disappointed," said Crowley. "We were so close, and we have got to learn to be able to win these games against the better teams, because they would beat most countries, as that is a pretty good Maori team. We know we can match them now, and go with them. I thought our scrum and our lineout were outstanding tonight, and we fronted up. But we just have to get a little bit smarter in the attack side of things.”
The Maori side started strongest, with Willie Ripia punishing Canadian indiscipline with three penalty kicks in the first 15 minutes.
Romana Graham saw yellow only six minutes in, but even with 14 men, the New Zealanders kept the pressure on Canada.
It wasn't all a one way street, as James Pritchard slotted a penalty at 27 minutes, but it was close, as three minutes later Andre Taylor ripped hrough the red defensive line.
Pritchard’s kicking boots stayed true, as he kicked two more penalties before halftime, to keep the Canucks in the game, down 19-9 at the break.
The gap was reduced a further three minutes into the second half with a fourth Pritchard goal, but Canada didn’t just threaten with the boot. The team gathered in confidence the longer the game went on, and with great running lines from Jeff Hassler and Connor Braid in particular, the team knew they were able to break the Maori line.
Taylor Paris was able to do so, reaching a grubber kick, but the referee decided that he didn’t touch down in time, as he was chased to the line.
But it wasn’t long until the score came. Ray Barkwill was the man who carried over from a great drive over the line with seven minutes to play, and with Connor Braid converting, the gap was down to six points.
Willie Ripia missed the chance to put the game out of reach with a penalty taken from halfway, but it was only moments later that his teammate Charlie Ngatai confirmed the result with a try out wide, as the last man overlap to end the game.
CANADA STARTING LINE UP
1 Hubert Buydens (Saskatoon Wild Oats/ Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
2 Ryan Hamilton (Capilano/ Pacific Tyee) West Vancouver, BC
3 Andrew Tiedemann (FC Auch Gers) St. Albert, AB
4 Jebb Sinclair (London Irish) Charter's Settlement, NB
5 Tyler Hotson (London Scottish RFC) Vancouver, BC
6 Tyler Ardron (Brantford Harlequins/ Ontario Blues) Lakefield, ON
7 Chauncey O’Toole (Bridgend Ravens) Belleisle, NB
8 Aaron Carpenter (Plymouth Albion RFC) Brantford, ON (C)
9 Phil Mack (UVic Vikes/ Pacific Tyee) Victoria, BC
10 Connor Braid (James Bay AA/ Pacific Tyee) Victoria, BC
11 Taylor Paris (Glasgow Warriors) Barrie, ON
12 Phil Mackenzie (London Welsh) Oakville, ON
13 Ciaran Hearn (Castaway Wanderers/ the Rock) Conception Bay, NL
14 Jeff Hassler (Okotoks RFC/ Prairie Wolf Pack) Okotoks, AB
15 James Pritchard (Bedford Blues) Parkes, NSW, Australia
16 Jason Marshall (Aurillac) North Vancouver, BC
17 Ray Barkwill (Niagara, Oakville Crusaders/ Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON for R. Hamilton (43)
18 Doug Wooldridge (Lindsay RFC/ Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON for A. Tiedemann (63)
19 Brett Beukeboom (Plymouth Albion RFC) Lindsay, ON for T. Hotson (58)
20 John Moonlight (James Bay AA/ Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON for C. O'Toole(58)
21 Eric Wilson (Meraloma RC) Vancouver, BC
22 Nathan Hirayama (UVic Vikes/ Pacific Tyee) Vancouver, BC for J. Pritchard (63)
23 Sean Duke (UVic Vikes/ Pacific Tyee) Victoria, BC for C. Hearn (80)
Pens: Pritchard 4
NZ Maori 32
Tries: Taylor, Ngatai
Convs: Ripia 2
Pens: Ripia 6