Canada Lose First Match of World Cup Qualifier to Uruguay 38-29: Rematch in Montevideo Next Saturday
We had said Canada by 18, we felt that's what Canada needed out of this match with the return in Montevideo, just to have the cushion in a more hostile environment. Divide that in half and give it to the other team, that's how difficult the task has become now. Uruguay are going home with a 9 point lead.
It didn't start well and Braid was the goat (not to be confused with g.o.a.t) with a dropped ball from a Uruguay kick. Some sloppy tackling and Uruguay were up 7-0 with 2 minutes gone. That was a portent of things to come as it happened again before Braid was replaced at the 32 minute mark in favour of Parfrey, Braid had picked up an ankle injury. In between Olmstead and DTH had scored tries and Braid had kicked a penalty, Canada were up 17-7 before disaster struck again at 30 minutes and Uruguay were back in the match 17-14. Uruguay scored again before half for a 21-17 lead.
In defence of Braid, how wise a decision was it by management to pull him from the 7s program and to put him in a starting #10 role when he hadn't played that position in a while, let alone XVs. It also adversely affected the 7s program at the Sydney 7s. Also putting Taylor Paris at fullback may not have been the best move in retrospect.
It was still Canada's game to win and they had the man advantage 6 minutes into the second half when Uruguay received a yellow card and Canada were awarded a penalty try. Canada went ahead 24-21. Canada really let themselves down when Uruguay scored two tries while down a man, that was unforgivable. That was the period between 46 minutes and 56 minutes and Uruguay went ahead 35-24. Canada got one back at 71 minutes when Blevins crashed over in the corner and it was a 35-29 contest. Uruguay kicked a late penalty to give them a 9 point cushion at 38-29.
Overall Canada's defensive line speed was poor, they didn't put nearly enough defensive pressure on the Uruguay runners. They made too many handling errors, the first two Uruguay tries were a result of dropped balls from Uruguay kicks. Kingsley Jones admitted Uruguay won the collisions - the forwards were out muscled at the contact area. Olmstead's turnover late in the match at the breakdown may have been the only one by Canada.
The best player on the day was probably the one player we thought might be a weak link, Ben LeSage, he outshone the pros on the team and the UBC player made line breaks, set up DTH's try, and shot up on defence occasionally to disrupt the Uruguay attack. A good reflection on UBC and their coaching staff.
Not much else to say, Canada have a tough week ahead. This is what the coach said post match. from Canadian Press
Head coach Kingsley Jones believes he knows the answers to what Canada must do to beat Uruguay in a crucial Rugby World Cup qualifying match.
The question is if a week is enough time for the Canadian team to regroup and learn the lessons from a 38-29 defeat in Saturday's first game of the two-leg series.
"We've got not a lot of time to spend on the rugby field practising, but there are certainly a lot of things we have to improve," Jones said after the loss before an announced attendance of 16,132 at BC Place Stadium.
"There are positives to build on. We have to win by 10 points next week. Can Canada win by 10 points away from home? We haven't done it for a while, but we need to go and do it."
The teams play again Saturday in Montevideo. The winner of the two-game aggregate series advances to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Veteran lock Evan Olmstead knows it's going to be an uphill battled but believes it's a fight Canada can win.
"I'm confident we can make it up," said Olmstead, who scored his second career try in the loss. "You see the quality of players we have, but we just have to make sure we all play properly, we stick to the script, do what we're supposed to do.
"It's easy to try and rely on a big name to just get us over the line but we've got to actually pull together and do things as a team and not just as bunch of individuals."
Canada gave up a try in the first minute of play but battled back for a 10-point lead early in the first half.
The Uruguayans refused to quit and stormed back to lead 21-17 at half time.
Even when they trailed, Uruguayan captain Juan Manuel Gaminara said his team didn't panic.
"When we were attacking we really generated some issues in their defence," he said.
Jones was frustrated with breakdowns on Canada's defence which cost his teams points.
"They won the collisions," he said. "Our lane speed wasn't what we wanted. That allowed them to come out of the ball with momentum."
Canada repeatedly moved the ball deep into the Uruguay end but then bogged down and couldn't score.
"It was a lot of passes we needed at times but then at the wrong time we made that one pass and it wasn't the right pass," said Jones.
"The players are disappointed with that. They know they made those decisions and it was probably the wrong decision."
The Canadian attack was also hobbled when outside-half Connor Braid left the game late in the first half with an ankle injury.
Jones didn't know Braid's status for this week.
Center Nick Blevins and wing DTH van der Merwe also scored tries for Canada. Braid kicked a pair of converts and added a penalty kick.
Canada also was awarded a penalty try when Uruguay was called for collapsing a maul.
Fullback Rodrigo Silva, wing Leandro Leivas, tighthead Mario Sagario and locks Ignacio Dotti and Rodrigo Capo scored tries for Uruguay. Outside-half Felipe Berchesi made the converts but missed three out of four penalty kicks.
Canada is currently ranked 21st in the world while Uruguay is 18th.
If Canada losses the series against Uruguay, it has one more chance to qualify for the World Cup through a repechage series.
Jones believes his players can turn the table on Uruguay.
"We've got a nine-point deficit to turn around," he said. "It will be a tough challenge. We have to rise to it, make sure we are all on our feet and ready to go."