Double blow for Maori team
Double blow for Maori teamSHARE
The New Zealand Maori team suffered a double blow in the wake of their impressive win in the opening match of their North American tour.
Jamison Gibson-Park, a late entry at scrumhalf after Piri Weepu was unable to start, scored two tries to spark the New Zealand Maori team to a 40-15 victory over Canada on Sunday.
It was confirmed on Monday that Weepu and hooker Hika Elliot are returning home as a result of injuries.
Elliot suffered a neck injury half way through the first half of Sunday's match against Canada and will be replaced by Tasman hooker Quentin MacDonald.
Weepu was ruled out just before kick-off after failing to recover from a knee injury sustained in training on Saturday.
Wellington scrumhalf Chris Smylie has been called in as replacement.
Both players will arrive in Philadelphia on Tuesday ahead of the Maori team's next match against, the United States on Saturday.
The Maori fought off a spirited challenge from Canada in the first match of their North American tour.
The team scored six tries in front of a capacity 22,500 crowd at BMO Field in Toronto to continue their unbeaten record against Canada over four matches.
Gibson-Park grabbed a bouncing ball that was deflected by a Canadian defender for a first-half try that put the Maori 12-5 ahead after an Andre Taylor conversion.
Gibson-Park scored again in the 50th minute off a pass from Zac Guildford to open the second half scoring, boosting the Maori advantage to 26-5.
Canada's Jeff Hassler opened the scoring with a try but Guildford equalised for the visitors at 5-5.
Maori fullback Robbie Robinson scored just before half-time and Taylor converted for a 19-6 lead over Canada at the break.
The Canadians, bolstered by a record home-nation crowd, closed the gap with a Liam Underwood penalty kick and Underwood converted after an Aaron Carpenter try to pull the hosts within 26-15 after 59 minutes.
But the Maori answered with replacement wing Matt Proctor's try in the 69th minute and prop Nick Barrett finished off the scoring in the final minutes with a try.
The Maori conclude their North American tour with a match next Saturday against the United States at Philadelphia, while Canada will travel to Europe for matches later this month at Georgia, Romania and Portugal.
Maori coach Colin Cooper said he was pleased with the performance given the team's short preparation time and long travel.
"We wanted to start this tour well and play our style of rugby and fortunately the conditions were favourable so we could deliver the game plan we wanted to play," Cooper said.
"We knew Canada would come out aggressively, but they surprised us with their expansive game and that early try showed that.
"They also didn't kick the ball long so that meant we couldn't counter attack as we planned. So we had to work hard and fortunately secured some good turnovers which resulted in tries.
"We were certainly forced to dig deep and responded well. To Canada's credit, they kept testing us, but I was really impressed with the effort the players put in given we have only been together for a week and had a long journey to get here.
"We face another big test in six days' time so will be working hard on a number of things in the days ahead. Defensively we didn't quite go as well as we wanted so that will certainly be one key focus for us."
Canada coach Kieran Crowley bemoaned his team's high error count.
"We turned over the ball too much," Crowley said.
"We played a lot of rugby in that first half and they scored against us a few times. In the second half we changed things but not enough. So I mean we played a lot of rugby but not in the right areas and they obviously deserved to win it.
"You look at what you're playing against and it's a New Zealand team that all play professionally, so you're always going to be under pressure. If we go one more pass away or if we're being a little more patient then maybe things are different but it wasn't to be.
"If you're playing at that level all the time then you can handle the pressure more. I think we're welcoming five or six guys back for the next one so we'll see, I mean there were some pretty good performances from the other guys who went out today so we'll have to see who comes out."
Tries: Hassler, Carpenter
Tries: Guildford, Gibson-Park 2, Robinson, Proctor, Barrett
Cons: Taylor 2, Robinson 2, West
Canada: 15 Matt Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Harry Jones, 11 Conor Trainor, 10 Liam Underwood, 9 Phil Mack, 8 Aaron Carpenter (captain), 7 John Moonlight, 6 Nanyak Dala, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Jon Phelan, 3 Doug Wooldridge, 2 Ray Barkwill, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Jake Ilnicki, 17 Ryan March, 18 Aaron Flagg, 19 Kyle Gilmour, 20 Adam Kleeberger, 21 Jamie Mackenzie, 22 Pat Parfrey, 23 Connor Braid.
Maori All Blacks: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Andre Taylor, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tim Bateman, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hikawera Elliot, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Chris Eves, 17 Nick Barrett, 18 Ash Dixon, 19 Blade Thomson, 20 Shane Christie, 21 Kurt Baker, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Matt Proctor.
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)