Canada Bulldozed by Hard Running Tonga: Next Up Leinster on Aug 24th
The bottom line is Tonga ran over and through the middle of the Canadian forward pack when they needed tries. You can't win games when the other team dominates the contact area like that. Pat Parfrey was the standout player for Canada when he subbed in at the 50 minute mark, he showed up scoring a try and providing the link on others as Canada scored 3 tries in the last 30 minutes. Hassler scored two tries, one in the first half, and DTH the other, Tonga scored 5 tries, 3 in the first half from the backline and two in the second from replacement forwards.
Kyle Baillie was a late scratch with Luke Campbell getting the start at blindside flanker, Conor Keys took a reserve spot. When Parfrey came in Peter Nelson went to first receiver and McRorie switched to scrum half. Next up is a match against a pre-season Leinster squad in Hamilton on August 24th, it will be Leinster's 2nd pre-season match, their first will be against Coventry on August 17th.
This is what others had to say about the match: Reuters
Tries from fullback David Halaifonua, winger Viliami Lolohea and centre Malietoa Hingano, though, had them [Tonga] well in charge with a 19-8 lead at halftime in front of a sparse crowd in Fiji’s second city Lautoka on Friday.
The Tongans continued to be too strong when they ran straight and hard and replacement loose forward Sione Vailanu got his reward for a fine display when he flew over the line, leaving Canada with too much to do in the last eight minutes.
"I think we have probably finished some games well but the first half hasn’t gone as well as well as we would have liked,” said Canada captain Tyler Ardron.
The power evident in the ‘Ikale Tahi’s game proved to be too much for the Canucks to handle, with all five of Tonga’s tries coming off the back of some strong ball-carrying and a confrontational style of play.
The Canadians’ weak defence was seemingly the downfall of Kingsley Jones’ side, which struggled to contain the abrasive offence that Tonga threw at them throughout the encounter.
McRorie’s goal kicking will also be a concern for the world’s 21st-ranked side, with the pivot missing four of his five attempts at goal.
The loss means Canada finish the Pacific Nations Cup winless and at the bottom of Pool B with only one point to their name. It also leaves them with just one win from seven tests in 2019
The final word from coach Kingsley Jones:
Canada Field Top Team for Tonga Match: Kickoff 8pm PT Thursday
Canada have four matches before their World Cup opener versus Italy, the matches against a preseason Leinster and an out of season BC should be givens and a chance to fine tune combinations and boost morale. The last match against USA will be the final test, a chance to see what Canada's final form is before Italy. USA are ranked ahead of Italy now, an even match that's within one score either way would be the perfect result. Tomorrow's Tonga contest is the next most important game, Canada desperately need a win after looking poor against USA and Fiji. Tonga are now ranked below USA and Italy, they're also winless at the PNC with stats very much like Canada's, 0 points, only 4 tries scored but a slightly better defence letting in 8 tries to Canada's 12. They looked very ordinary in their loss to Japan with similar problems to Canada, a maul that was ineffective and a maul defence that was breached. There's room for optimism in this match, Tonga faded in the last 10 minutes, Canada played their best rugby in the last 10 minutes of the USA and Fiji matches. There's no excuses now, no meaningless banter from the coach about improving, this is the first real test and a win is imperative.
What are some areas where Canada will need to shine? The Tongan openside had 3 steals before he was subbed off, Canada's flankers, Rumball and Baillie, need to show some production there. Olmstead at second row has been the main jackal threat, he needs some help. McRorie at #10 needs to be on point with his kicking and game management, kicking to land not to hand as the saying goes. Watching AJ MacGinty for the USA shows how important the fly half is in controlling the game. Phil Mack at #9 will have to bring renewed energy in attack, the ball movement looked slow in the USA match. Japan had a lot of success early on against Tonga in bringing their defensive line up fast and winning the contact area, Canada will need to bring that intensity early and maintain it.
As for selections this looks like a full strength squad, no excuses either that it's not the top squad. Taylor Paris is still being rested but he would have a tough time displacing DTH or Hassler in this roster. The front row sees Djustice at loosehead, Tierney at tighthead with Eric Howard at hooker. Reserve props are Hubert Buydens and Cole Keith. The second row of Olmstead and Sheppard is the best combination Canada currently can field. The loosies of Baillie, Rumball and Ardron is also Canada's best option this close to the World Cup.
The halfback combination is the veteran option, McRorie has looked better than O'Leary and Nelson at #10 in the earlier matches so gets the start in this critical must win scenario. The backups for him in the match would be Parfrey or Nelson if it's needed. Phil Mack is still first choice scrum half but needs to have a good game against Tonga, Jamie Mackenzie waits as backup and McRorie can always switch positions if required.
It may be puzzling why Hearn is getting his third start at #12 given the poor production of the backline so far but perhaps coach Jones feels he doesn't have viable options. If the first 40 minutes don't show some positive backline production it wouldn't be surprising to see Blevins put in there or a shakeup of the backline with perhaps Nelson getting a shot. Luke Campbell and Matt Heaton provide loose forward cover.
Who has been left off from the previous match, Conor Trainor, even though scoring a late try against USA has had problems with handling errors at key times. Brouwer and Ilnicki at props and Quattrin at hooker. Perhaps Jones is still making his mind up on front row rotation but against Fiji none of the players stood out and the maul was a mess. Conor Keys and Justin Blanchet injured, will they make their way back in after recovery is another item to watch. Shane O'Leary not making the bench in this match, has been OK but not a game changer, a lot depends on how McRorie does in this match one would suspect. Kainoa Lloyd did well against Fiji, except for the lack of judgement in that attempted flubber kick, but is hard pressed to jump ahead of DTH, Hassler or Paris in the queue.
Kickoff is 8pm PT on Thursday.
1 Djustice Sears-Duru Oakville, ON Seattle Seawolves
2 Eric Howard Ottawa, ON NOLA Gold
3 Matt Tierney Oakville, ON Section Paloise
4 Mike Sheppard Brampton, ON Toronto Arrows
5 Evan Olmstead Vancouver, BC Unattached
6 Kyle Baillie Summerside, PEI NOLA Gold
7 Lucas Rumball Scarborough, ON Toronto Arrows
8 Tyler Ardron (C) Lakefield, ON Chiefs
9 Phil Mack Victoria, BC Seattle Seawolves
10 Gordon McRorie Calgary, AB Calgary Hornets
11 DTH van der Merwe Regina, SK Glasgow Warriors
12 Ciaran Hearn Conception Bay South, NL Unattached
13 Ben LeSage Calgary, AB Calgary Canucks/UBC Thunderbirds
14 Jeff Hassler Okotoks, AB Seattle Seawolves
15 Peter Nelson Dungannon, UK Unattached
16 Benoit Piffero Issoire, France BLAGNAC RUGBY
17 Hubert Buydens Saskatoon, SK NOLA Gold
18 Cole Keith Sussex, NB Toronto Arrows
19 Luke Campbell Victoria, BC James Bay Athletic Association
20 Matt Heaton Godmanchester, QC Darlington Mowden Park
21 Jamie Mackenzie Oakville, ON Toronto Arrows
22 Nick Blevins Calgary, AB Calgary Hornets
23 Patrick Parfrey St. John's, NL Toronto Arrows
Canada's Pacific Nations Cup Schedule:
Canada 19-47 USA
Canada 13-38 Fiji
Canada vs. Tonga
Churchill Park – Lautoka, Fiji
Kick-off: 11pm ET /8pm PT
Pre-Rugby World Cup:
Canada vs. Leinster
Tim Hortons Field – Hamilton, ON
Kick-off: 3pm ET/ 12pm PT
Canada vs. USA
BC Place – Vancouver, BC
Kick-off: 10pm ET/ 7pm PT
Canada vs BC All-Stars
August 30, 2019
Westhills Stadium, Langford, BC
Kick-off: 9:30pm ET / 6:30pm PT
Tickets: $10 for adults and $5 for youth & can be purchased from Eagle Ridge Community Centre or the stadium gates on match day