Canada’s u20s polished off a perfect month with a resounding win over the USA on Friday night, in doing so earning a trip to the Junior World Trophy in May. The weather was far more cooperative this time at Westhills Stadium, the home base of Rugby Canada in Langford, but the way the game went it wouldn’t have made a difference either way. If anything the Junior All-Americans might have preferred a bit more inclemency given the much closer result of Monday’s game
The visitors actually scored first, with Ben Cima knocking over a penalty goal, but Canada wasted little time responding. Dan Joyce redeemed his abject performance in Monday’s match with a lightning burst off the breakdown, offloading to Reegan O’Gorman who stretched out for the try. It was very pleasing to see Joyce return to form so quickly, an indication that he has the temperament required for international rugby. He could just as easily have taken a conservative approach to find his feet again, but instead he backed himself and it paid off handsomely.
A bit of a stalemate ended with Dylan Horgan and Cima exchanging penalties. The latter would be the final stroke of the pen from the All-Americans. From here on out it was all Canada. A yellow card to Darien Pickett untethered an already creaky scrum and the big Canadian forwards turned it on. Luke Bradley peeled off the back and wrenched his way out of a weak challenge from Luke Mulholland and Maciu Koroi to score in the corner.
The second half was all Canada to the tune of 28 unanswered points in what turned out to be a comprehensive walloping. Two tries from boisterous hooker Paddy Finlay and another to star fullback Andrew Coe combined with five successful Guiseppe du Toit kicks capped the scoring. Had captain Rumball opted for a scrum rather than points on at least two occasions, the score might have been even more lopsided. It was a very disheartening performance from an American side that has shown little in terms of class over the two game series.
Once again it was Cima and flanker Hanco Germishuys who were most notable for the visitors. Paula Hafoka showed a couple nice steps but unfortunately had to go off early after somehow injuring himself diving on the turf to recover a loose ball. Aside from that there was very little to cheer about from an American perspective. The scrum was embarrassingly poor and there must be questions asked of the national management given their inability to address a glaringly obvious problem that has become a blight on their game at all levels.
Thankfully Canada appear to be in much better shape. Credit inherently goes to the props, but the forwards as a unit must take a bow for dominating their opposites in all facets of play. Lucas Rumball was given man-of-the-match and it’s hard to say the workhorse captain didn’t deserve it, but Finlay played with such immense energy it’s equally difficult to accept that he should be unrewarded. One could go down the list from 1 to 8, the pack was outstanding.
That’s not to take anything away from a backline that also impressed. They just didn’t get the same amount of opportunities. Defensively they were rock solid and when they did see the ball they went forward. There are still kinks to be worked out in distribution and lines of running, but they are off to a very good start and are not short on confidence.
While the Americans retreat home with nothing left to play for, a frankly abhorrent situation, Canada now have a few weeks to prepare for the tournament in Portugal that kicks of on May 12. After a woeful 7th place finish last year, there will be high hopes with a very winnable pool that includes Hong Kong, Namibia, and Tonga. If the last month is anything to go on, May could be a very enjoyable one for Canadian rugby fans.
CANADA u20 41 vs 6 UNITED STATES u20
Friday, March 27, 22:00 EST, Langford
03 mins – B. Cima pen 0-3
06 mins – R. O’Gorman try 5-3
30 mins – D. Horgan pen 8-3
35 mins – B. Cima pen 8-6
39 mins – L. Bradley try 13-6
44 mins – P. Finlay try 18-6
48 mins – A. Coe try 23-6
49 mins – G. du Toit con 25-6
55 mins – G. du Toit pen 28-6
60 mins – G. du Toit pen 31-6
65 mins – P. Finlay try 36-6
66 mins – G. du Toit con 38-6
76 mins – G. du Toit pen 41-6
32 mins – K. Leitner yellow (foul play)
38 mins – D. Pickett yellow (team infringements)
A. Coe; T. Sauder, M. Santilli, G. du Toit, K. Leitner (B. Waeyen 67); D. Horgan (P. Berna 56), D. Joyce (T. Pomroy 67); C. Martinez (B. Blaikie 67), P. Finlay (J. Shaw 67), M. Tierney (C. Young 51); P. Ciulini, R. O’Gorman; L. Rumball (capt.), O. Nott (M. Rothman 63), L. Bradley (M. Rothman 52-62).
UNITED STATES u20
S. Dean; C. McRae; I. Kinsley, F. Fisiiahi (O. Brady 58), P. Hafoka (S. Halliman 21); B. Cima, L. Mulholland (E. Thompson 56-58); D. Pickett (V. Lee-Lo 49), G. Romero, J. Gannon; O. Drew, C. Wiessing (capt.); W. Parker (V. Lee-Lo 38-48) (A. Bush 52), H. Germishuys, M. Koroi.
Referee: C. Assmus