Whangerei - Canada effectively dumped Tonga out
of the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday with a breathtaking, come-from-behind 25-20
victory thanks to two late tries.
The Canadians trailed 13-20 with
13 minutes to go but scores from Aaron Carpenter and Phil MacKenzie
broke Tongan hearts at Whangarei, handing them their second defeat with
games to come against Japan and France.
"That was awesome, I'm so proud of the boys," said Canada captain Pat Riordan.
"We just said everything we achieve is in our hands so it's up to us to change it (the score) - and we did."
result extended Tonga's winless World Cup record against Canada and
disappointed a legion of fans who had harboured hopes of a first World
Cup quarter-final after the Sea Eagles' battling opening defeat to New
Canada edged a scrappy opening half thanks to the
positional kicking of fly-half Ander Monro and a rampaging run from DTH
Van Der Merwe, who burst through two tacklers to set up the opening
score for Jebb Sinclair.
Tonga, plagued by handling errors, passed
up six points when fullback Kurt Morath miscued two penalties from
central positions, and were made to pay when Canada's James Pritchard
knocked one over at the other end on 26 minutes.
Tonga fielded 11
different players from the side which frustrated the All Blacks, and
they looked disjointed as their repeated attempts to run the ball broke
down in a series of handling errors.
But they were rewarded on the
stroke of half-time as centre Siale Piutau was released in space on the
right and scythed through two defenders to score. Morath added the
conversion to cut Canada's lead to 10-7 at the break.
And the game
burst into life in the second half as the teams swapped penalties and
then Piutau ran onto a short pass and accelerated through Canada's
defence on 53 minutes.
Canada were on the ropes but they hit back
when substitute centre Conor Trainor muscled forward and number eight
Carpenter capitalised by barrelling through a sea of bodies for a try on
Canada kicker Pritchard missed the conversion,
leaving them two points short, but left wing Phil MacKenzie crossed
again as the Maple Leafs regained the decisive lead 25-20 with just six
minutes to go.
Hundreds of Tonga supporters gathered outside
Whangarei's Northland Events Centre more than two hours before kick-off,
extending the ecstatic World Cup welcome New Zealand's Tongan community
has given its team.
Tonga and Canada, ranked at 12 and 14
respectively, have a long World Cup rivalry dating back to their first
match at the tournament in 1987, which the Maple Leafs won 37-4. Canada
also won their last World Cup match in 2003.