Pritchard sets up Canadian win
Fullback James Pritchard scored 21 points as Canada defeated Georgia 31-12 in an international match.
Fullback James Pritchard scored 21 points as Canada defeated Georgia 31-12 in an international match on Saturday.
The 32-year-old Pritchard registered one try, two conversions and four penalties against Georgia in front of a crowd of 3,661 at Swangard Stadium in Vancouver.
Canada led 23-7 at half-time thanks to 16 points from Pritchard, who originally comes from Australia but is now a Canadian citizen.
Canada is currently ranked 13th in IRB ratings while Georgia is in 15th place.
The two teams met just twice previously, with Canada overpowering Georgia 42-10 in 2009 and Georgia defeating Canada 22-15 in 2010.
Pritchard is the second leading all-time Canadian scorer with 445 career points. The record is held by the Canadian team's national programme manager Gareth Rees, who finished his career with 491 points.
The game against Georgia wrapped up a three-game Test series for Canada that also included a win over the United States, 28-25, and a loss to Italy, 15-26.
Canada's other tries came from wing DTH van der Merwe at the five minute mark of the first half and wing Sean Duke five minutes from full-time.
Pritchard, not taking credit for his offensive effort, said this was a team effort, especially from the team's younger players.
"We needed them to step up and that's what they did. They put their hand up and that's what you want. You want the entire team to be competitive."
On Georgia, he said: "Our defence was great, especially in the first half. If they were able to get a try in the early going it might have been a different game but full credit to the guys, especially that one goal line stand which saved the game for us."
On his quest to overtake Rees' scoring record, Pritchard said: "I haven't really thought about it. I'm just trying to stay on this team as long as possible and try help us win. We've got a long of talented guys coming through, a lot of talented young guys who are pushing for a place. They keep me on my toes and keep me young, making me work. I plan to be around as long as possible and if I'm able to get the record that's a bonus."
Canadian coach Kieran Crowley said he thought his defence did a good job, especially when Georgia got down near the goal line several times during the first half and Canada kept them out.
And he was pleased with what he saw from his younger players. Canada made seven lineup changes from that of the game against Italy.
"They all played very well, it's just a matter of giving them more and more game time."
Playing on a perfect day for rugby, overcast but sunny breaks, Canada made its mark early when van der Merwe picked up a loose ball on the Georgia side of the field and raced the rest of the way down the sidelines for the game's initial score. Pritchard converted.
Then Pritchard took over. Following a 15 yard penalty goal five minutes later, he then scored his try on a great run off a scrum by Phil Mackenzie who in turn passed to Matt Evans who tossed it to Pritchard near the goal line. Pritchard's convert made it 17-0.
Pritchard then added to his total with another penalty goal 30 minutes in.
Georgia finally got on the scoreboard after their scrum continually dominated Canada near the goal line and hooker Mikheil Nariashvili pushed the ball over from one yard out.
Pritchard then kicked another penalty goal from 30 yards out as the half ended, 23-7 in Canada's favour.
Canada put the game away and took the heart out of Georgia just four minutes into the second half. Winger Sean Duke intercepted an errant Georgia pass on the Canada 20 yard line and raced 80 yards into the Georgia end zone.
Georgia got their second try 27 minutes into the second half when Shalva Sutiashvili pushed the ball over from five yards out off a scrum.
And so it was fitting that Pritchard should end his eventful day with another penalty goal on the last play of the game.
Tries: Van der Merwe, Pritchard, Duke
Cons: Pritchard 2
Pens: Pritchard 4
Tries: Nariashvili, Sutiashvili
Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Sean Duke, 13 Conor Trainor, 12 Phil Mackenzie, 11 DTH Van der Merwe, 10 Matt Evans, 9 Edward Fairhurst, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 Nanyak Dala, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 Tyler Hotson, 4 Jebb Sinclair, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Andrew Tiedemann, 1 Tom Dolezel.
Replacements: 16 Mike Pletch, 17 Doug Wooldridge, 18 Brett Beukeboom, 19 Jon Phelan, 20 Sean White, 21 Jeff Hassler, 22 Ciaran Hearn.
Georgia: 15 Irakli Kiasashvili, 14 Irakli Machkhaneli, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Tedo Zibzibadze, 11 Lekso Gugava, 10 Merab Kvirikashvili, 9 Irakli Abuseridze, 8 Beka Bitsadze, 7 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 6 Gia Labadze, 5 Vakhtang Maisuradze, 4 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 3 David Zirakashvili, 2 Revaz Belkania, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Levan Chilachava, 18 Shalva Sutiashvili, 19 Givi Berishvili, 20 Bidzina Samkharadze, 21 Lasha Malaguradze, 22 Alexander Todua.
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)