It was a quick start from Canada as they immediately put Russia on the back foot and a nice inside ball to Taylor Paris put them in scoring position. James Pritchard put three points on the board after Russia were offside, but Canada were guilty of letting up immediately following and allowed the other fullback on the pitch, Igor Kliuchnikov, to even up the score with a penalty of his own. Not to be outdone, Russia committed the exact same offense seconds later and Pritchard was gifted another three points.
After a few minutes of relative parity Russia found themselves deep in Canadian territory, but a turnover and simple hands from Harry Jones sent Jeff Hassler screaming down the sidelines to score a tremendous 70 metre try against the run of play. Pritchard converted and the lead was now ten. Sadly for Jones, his international debut came to an end shortly after and Connor Braid was summoned to replace the injured flyhalf.
The all-too-familiar festival of kicking was reinstated until Paris thankfully decided he’d had enough, and his efforts were rewarded with another penalty shot, this time taken by Braid. He sliced it and it appeared Russia would clear, but Canada came right back and this time it was Pritchard whose trusty radar found the target again. Tyler Ardron added to the Russian misery as he pinched a lineout inside his own 22 and Braid cleared to bring up the intermission.
The kicking continued to start the second stanza until Hassler produced a moment of magic, weaving his way through the Russian defence and passing to Paris, who ran a brilliant support line to claim the try. No sooner had Pritchard converted when he was converting another, this one from Nick Blevins after charging down Sergey Sugrobov’s attempted clearance kick.
With the game now in the bag, Hassler added another fine individual try before the game faded into indifference with a raft of substitutes coming on. Russia did manage to keep hold of the ball and attack for a large portion of the last quarter, but pleasingly for coach Kieran Crowley his side defended well and kept the Bears frustrated and tryless.
The Canadians will be very pleased with their performance, though not a masterpiece by any means they did the basics well and lifted their game after disappointing against Samoa a week ago. Onwards to Oxford they march to face the Maori in what should be an exciting match. Russia end their November tour on a low note, and seem to have gone backwards since the World Cup. Their multinational coaching squad will have much to think about as they now look towards the European Nations Cup and beyond.
04 mins – James Pritchard pen 3-0
07 mins – Igor Kliuchnikov pen 3-3
09 mins – James Pritchard pen 6-3
18 mins – Jeff Hassler try 11-3
19 mins – James Pritchard con 13-3
32 mins – James Pritchard pen 16-3
43 mins – Taylor Paris try 21-3
43 mins – James Pritchard con 23-3
46 mins – Nick Blevins try 28-3
47 mins – James Pritchard con 30-3
57 mins – Jeff Hassler try 35-3
80 mins – Nick Blevins yellow (dangerous tackle)
James Pritchard; Jeff Hassler, Ciaran Hearn, Nick Blevins, Taylor Paris; Harry Jones (Connor Braid 22), Eric Wilson (Phil Mack 48); Andrew Tiedemann, Ryan Hamilton (Ray Barkwill 60), Jason Marshall (Doug Wooldridge 62); Jebb Sinclair (John Moonlight 62), Tyler Hotson (Jon Phelan 51); Tyler Ardron, Chauncey O’Toole (Nanyak Dala 44), Aaron Carpenter (capt.) (Hubert Buydens 71).
Igor Kliuchnikov; Denis Simplikevich (Sergei Trishin 62), Vasili Artemiev, Dimitri Gerasimov, Vladimir Ostroushko; Sergey Sugrobov (Ramil Gaisin 62), Alexei Shcherban; Grigori Tsnobiladze (Alexei Volkov 48), Valeri Tsnobiladze (Vladislav Korshunov 48), Evgeny Pronenko (Innokenty Zykov 48-68, 70); Alexander Voytov (capt.) (Andrei Garbuzov 55), Kirill Kulemin; Andrei Temnov, Pavel Butenko, Viktor Gresev.