Canada fight back to down Fiji
Canada erased a one-point deficit at the half to beat Fiji 20-18 in a Pacific Nations Cup match at Twin Elm Rugby Park on Wednesday.
Second-half tries from Harry Jones and Ray Barkwill lifted the hosts, who also had a try from captain Aaron Carpenter before the break.
The match began with both teams trading chances. Canada's commitment paid off when Carpenter plunged into the try zone to open the scoring and Connor Braid delivered the conversion.
Fiji responded late in the first half. After closing the gap thanks to a try by Nemani Nadolo, Fiji continued to pile on the pressure.
The team consistently attacked the ball while on defence, suffocating the Canadian attack.
Setareki Koroilagilagi capitalized on two costly penalties by Canada to give Fiji an 11-10 lead at half-time.
After the break, Canada stepped up their physicality in order to regain the advantage.
"We brought all the physicality that we could bring today," Carpenter said, adding that he had challenged his team to step their game up against a Fiji team that had beaten Japan 22-8 on Saturday in a Pacific Nations Cup match in Fiji.
The second half opened with Canada running the ball extremely well. Pinned around midfield, Canada kicked the ball deep into Fiji's territory.
After a lapse in judgment from Fiji, Jones sprinted down the field and pounced on the loose ball in the try zone to deliver Canada a lead they would not relinquish.
Canada's final scoring play of the game involved a great effort by Phil Mack, who drove the ball downfield before handing it off to Ciaran Hearn, who was eventually able to pass it to Barkwill.
The big hooker, who came on as a substitute in the second half, ploughed through a couple of Fijian defenders to score the try.
A late try by Fijian captain Akapusi Qera and subsequent conversion made things close, but Canada were able to hold off the visitors for the victory.
It was Canada's first win over Fiji since 1995 and vaulted the Canadians to the top of the table in the competition with eight points.
Fiji are second in the standings with six points after two matches in the tournament which includes five nations playing in four countries.
Canada now face a short turnaround as they prepare to host Tonga on Saturday in Kingston on the campus of Queen's University.
Tries: Carpenter, Jones, Barkwill
Tries: Nadolo, Qera
Pens: Koroilagilagi 2
Canada: 15 Connor Braid, 14 Matt Evans, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Harry Jones, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Liam Underwood, 9 Phil Mack, 8 Aaron Carpenter (captain), 7 Nanyak Dala, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 Tyler Hotson, 4 Jon Phelan, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Ryan Hamilton, 1 Andrew Tiedemann.
Replacements: 16 Ray Barkwill, 17 Hubert Buydens, 18 Tom Dolezel, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 John Moonlight, 21 Sean White, 22 Nathan Hirayama, 23 Nick Blevins.
Fiji: 15 Simeli Koniferedi, 14 Adriu Delai, 13 Nemani Nadolo, 12 Leone Tabuarua, 11 Aisea Natoga, 10 Setareki Koroilagilagi, 9 Nemia Kenatale, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Apisai Naikatini, 5 Wame Lewaravu, 4 Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 3 Setefano Somoca, 2 Tuapati Talemaitoga, 1 Jerry Yanuyanutawa.
Replacements: 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Manasa Saulo, 18 Campese Ma’afu, 19 Iliesa Ratuva, 20 Sam Matavesi, 21 Aporosa Kenatale, 22 Jiuta Lutumailagi, 23 Iliesa Salusalu.
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: Brian Zapp (SA), Leah Berard (USA)