Canada claimed their first success over Fiji since 1995 as they beat the islanders 20-18 in a Pacific Nations Cup match at Twin Elm Rugby Park.
Second-half tries from Harry Jones and Ray Barkwill lifted the home side, who also had a try from captain Aaron Carpenter before the break.
The match began with both teams trading chances. Canada’s commitment paid off when Carpenter plunged into the try zone to open the scoring and Connor Braid delivered the extras.
Fiji responded late in the first half. After closing the gap thanks to a try by Nemani Nadolo, Fiji continued to pile on the pressure. The team consistently attacked the ball while on defence, suffocating the Canadian attacking offerings.
Setareki Koroilagilagi capitalised on two offences by Canada to give Fiji an 11-10 lead at half-time.
After the break, Canada stepped up their physicality in order to regain the advantage.
“We brought all the physicality that we could bring today,” Carpenter said, adding that he had challenged his team to step their game up against a Fiji team that had beaten Japan 22-8 on Saturday in a Pacific Nations Cup match in Fiji.
After a lapse in judgment from Fiji, Jones sprinted down the field and pounced on the loose ball in the try zone to deliver Canada a lead they would not relinquish.
Canada’s final scoring play of the game involved a great effort by Phil Mack, who drove the ball downfield before handing it off to Ciaran Hearn, who was eventually able to pass it to Barkwill.
The big hooker, who came on as a substitute in the second half, ploughed through a couple of Fijian defenders to score the try.
A late try by Fijian captain Akapusi Qera and subsequent conversion made things close, but Canada were able to hold off the visitors for the victory.
It was Canada’s first win over Fiji in men’s rugby since 1995 and vaulted the Canadians to the top of the table in the competition with eight points.
Fiji are second in the standings with six points after two matches in the tournament which includes five nations playing in four countries.
Canada now face a short turnaround as they prepare to host Tonga on Saturday in Kingston on the campus of Queen’s University.
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