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Canada sign off from World Rugby Classic in style

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Pivotal performance: Aaron McLelland, left, was at the heart of Canada’s attacking play throughout the 34-17 success over Italy (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Charging through: two try scorer Morgan Findlay forces his way through during Canada’s 34-17 success over Italy (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Canada ended their impressive World Rugby Classic campaign in style with a 34-17 victory over Italy last night.

After edging a close first half 19-10, Canada stamped home their authority after the interval, running in a further two tries with the impressive Aaron McLelland dictating throughout.

Having been the whipping boys for much of the past 15 years, the improved Canadians finished the tournament with two victories from their three matches, having beaten the Lions and losing only narrowly 10-7 to Argentina in a tight affair.

“This is the best we’ve been down here,” said Canada coach Jonathon Goldie. “The difference this year is that we have put a lot more effort into recruitment and we are building on things that we have implemented over the past four to five years.

“We are improving all the time as a group and we’ll be here to win it all next year.”

Canada opened the scoring through a Morgan Findlay unconverted try after just five minutes.

Italy responded through the boot of Ramrio Pez in the 20th minute, reducing the deficit to two points, only for Canada to score their second try four minutes later when McLelland brilliantly evaded three tackles to score under the posts. This time Derek Daypuck added the extras to give his side a 12-3 advantage.

Italy again fought back with a try of their own when Emiliano Caffini finished off a flowing move and Pez was reliable with the kick to bring his side within two points of their opponents.

In the closing stages of the half, a swift attack from right to left resulted in Findlay scoring his second try with the simple conversion from Daypuck sending Canada in at the interval with a 19-10 lead.

Picking up where they left off, Daypuck added a further three points with a simple penalty at the start of the second hal , before another free-flowing move resulted in Chris Robinson going over in the corner. Daypuck missed the difficult conversion to leave the score at 27-10.

With four minutes remaining McLelland put the result beyond doubt with his second try. Proving too fast for the Italian defensive line, the flyhalf danced his way through on the halfway line before racing clear to score. Daypuck had the simple task of adding the extras from in front of the posts, extending the advantage to 34-10.

In the dying seconds, Italy grabbed a consolation try through Roberto Quararoli with Pez converting to wrap up proceedings.

In the other match last night, the Classic Lions finally picked up their first win of the tournament after thrashing USA Eagles 42-14.

The Lions breezed into a 21-0 lead at half time courtesy of a brace of tries from Rhodri McAtee and one from Aled Thomas, who also successfully converted all three.

David McGregor extended the advantage further with another try immediately after the restart, with Thomas again adding the extras, before USA finally got on the scoreboard in the 38th minute through Dre Palin’s try. That was converted by Robbie Reid to leave the score at 28-7.

A Lee Purnell try, converted by Thomas, restored the Lions 28-point advantage only for USA to hit back with ten minutes remaining when Palin added his second try after chasing his own kick to score under the posts. Reid again slotted the conversion as the score stood at 35-14.

There was to no late USA comebackas the Lions added one final try through Phillipe Reed, with Thomas’s conversion sealing a comfortable victory.

Eagles ended the tournament winless, having also suffered heavy defeats against Argentina and Italy.

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Published October 14, 2022 at 7:44 am (Updated October 14, 2022 at 7:44 am)

Canada sign off from World Rugby Classic in style

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