CANADA DEFEATS TONGA TO LEAD PNC WITH 3-0 RECORD
Canada held off a late charge from Tonga to win their third consecutive Pacific Nations Cup Test 36-27. Twenty-seven second half points helped seal the victory.
Playing under rainy conditions at Richardson Stadium on Queens University’s campus in Kingston, Ontario, Tonga took a strangle hold on the momentum early on. An early try from Lua Lokotui and successful conversion from Kurt Morath put the eleventh ranked team in the world ahead by seven.
With Canada pressing but not able to break through easily, James Pritchard arrived for his first taste of game action just in time. The Bedford Blues star booted three penalty goals in row to give Canada the 9-7 lead at the break.
The first half also featured an altercation around the 34th minute in which Eddit Aholelei was sent off for Tonga with a straight red card.
After a low-scoring first half, Canada hit their stride in the second frame. In the first ten minutes, Canada received tries from Matt Evans and Sean Duke in addition to successful conversion kicks from Pritchard to put Canada up 23-7. Morath would add a penalty goal for Tonga to cap off an intense ten minutes of scoring.
A scary moment occurred midway through the second half when Matt Evans was hit hard by a Tongan player and stayed down for several minutes. Although he left the field via a stretcher his status was later deemed to be OK with the stretcher serving as a precautionary measure.
From there, Tonga clawed back the momentum in their favour. Following a try and kick from Pritchard to make it 33-10, Tonga roared back quickly with three straight tries.
Despite the numerous scores, Tonga was only able to make one of the conversion kicks, leaving Canada’s lead at just seven. With pressure from the Southern Pacific side, a late penalty goal from Pritchard sealed the decision in favour of Canada.
“My heart stopped a couple times there,” noted Carpenter after the match. Saturday’s match was also significant for Captain Carpenter who received his 50thcap for Canada against Tonga, joining the elite ranks of rugby players to suit up for Canada. Despite the close victory, Carpenter noted that it was, “A great way to remember my 50th cap.”
Canada’s first excursion into the Pacific Nations Cup tournament now leads them across the Pacific Ocean to Japan. After facing off against Ireland in an international test, the team will travel to Japan for a match on June 19.
Following Saturday’s victory, Canada continues to lead the table with 12 points as the only undefeated team. Canada’s only remaining opponent, Japan, sits at 0-2 with zero points in the tournament following losses to Tonga and Fiji.
Tries: Evans, Duke, Pritchard
Cons: Pritchard 3
PGs: Pritchard 4 Hearn
Tries: Lokotui, Iongi, Vainikolo, Helu
Cons: Morath, Kaho
Canada’s Roster for Tonga – Name, (Club/CRC Team) Hometown
1 – Hubert Buydens, (Saskatoon Wild Oats/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
2 – Ray Barkwill, (Niagara Wasps RFC/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
3 – Jason Marshall, (Atlantique Stade Rochelais/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
4 – Brett Beukeboom, (Plymouth Albion) Lindsay, ON
5 – Tyler Hotson, (London Scottish RFC) Vancouver, BC
6 – Jebb Sinclair, (London Irish) Fredericton, NB
7 – John Moonlight, (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
8 – Aaron Carpenter, Captain, (Cornish Pirates) Brantford, ON
9 – Sean White, (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
10 – Nathan Hirayama, (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears), Richmond, BC
11 – Sean Duke, (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears), Vancouver, BC
12 – Nick Blevins, (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
13 – Ciaran Hearn, (Castaway Wanderers/Atlantic Rock) Conception Bay, NL
14 – Matt Evans, (Cornish Pirates) Maple Bay, BC
15 – James Pritchard, (Bedford Blues) Parkes, NSW, Australia
16 – Ryan Hamilton, (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
17 – Doug Wooldridge, (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
18 – Tom Dolezel, (London St. George’s/Ontario Blues) London, ON
19 – Nanyak Dala, (Castaway Wanderers RFC/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
20 – Tyler Ardron, (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Lakefield, ON 21 – Phil Mack, (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
22 – Liam Underwood, (Queens University/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
23 – Pat Parfrey, (Swilers RFC/Atlantic Rock) St. John’s, NL
Rugby Canada Summer Team Staff:
Head Coach: Kieran Crowley
Assistant Coaches: Geraint John, Neil Barnes, Clive Griffiths
Strength and Conditioning: Andy Evans
Medical Support: Isabel Grondin, Carrie Smith, Nicole Ainsworth, Rebecca Spiers, Danielle Mah, Michael Cook, Carla Brash,
Doctor: Dr. Paul Watson, Dr. Andrew Everett, Dr. Shelby Karpman, Dr. Peet Du Toit
Performance Analyst: Calum Ramsay
Manager: Gareth Rees
Media Coordinator: Bryan Kelly
Tonga Roster for Canada
1 – Eddie Aholelei 2 – Ilasia Ma’asi 3 – Taione Vea 4 – Emosi Kauhenga 5 – Lua Lokotui
6 – Hale T Pole 7 – Nili Latu Captain 8 – Viliami Fihaki
9 – Taniela Moa 10 – Kurt Morath 11 – Will Helu 12 – Sione Piukala
13 – Siale Piutau 14 – Fetu’u Vainikolo 15 – Viliami Hakalo
16 – Elvia Taione 17 – Kama Sakalia 18 – Sila Puafisi 19 – Josh Afu 20 – Paula Kaho 21 – Thomas Palu 22 – Viliame Iongi 23 – Tevita Halaifonua