Injury mars Wales' win over Canada
Rampant Wales ran in 10 tries to thump Canada 68-12 but celebrations were mooted after fullback Leigh Halfpenny was sidelined with injury only 30 seconds into his 100th Test.
Halfpenny was visibly upset as he was stretchered from the field after his knee appeared to give way when he tried to launch a counter-attack, and before any Canadian player had tackled him.
Wales boss Wayne Pivac said that Halfpenny “tweaked” his knee.
He left the pitch on a stretcher cart, with Wales moving wing Jonah Holmes to fullback as they ran in 10 tries in front of a first home crowd since February last year.
Pivac said: “It was a shock to everyone, wasn’t it? Just under a minute into the game.
“He just stepped off one leg and tweaked the knee. We won’t know how bad it is until he gets that scanned, and he will do that early next week.
“He is in his 100th Test match, and he knew straight away he had done something, we just don’t know how bad it is.
“He was frustrated that was how his 100th Test finished. Anyone would be like that I guess. We will know more once he’s had a scan.
“He is still driven and he still feels he can offer something for his country. While he has that at the forefront of his mind, I have no doubt he will bounce back.”
Six Nations champions Wales delivered in front an attendance of just over 6,100, taking charge through first-half tries from Holmes, Tomos Williams, Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee, James Botham and Will Rowlands.
Williams added another try early in the second half, and there was also a double for Taine Basham in his first Test and Holmes claimed a brace, while flyhalf Callum Sheedy kicked seven conversions and Ben Thomas added the extras following second scores for Basham and Holmes.
A far biggest test now awaits, though, with Wales hosting Argentina in Cardiff on the next two weekends.
Pivac added: “It wasn’t the start that anyone wanted, but the reaction to that was good. To have 40 points in the bank by half-time, you have to be relatively pleased.
“We knew there would be mistakes, and there were. We will look at that and pull out the learnings for individuals and for the group as a whole.
“We needed a game. To go in cold against a side (Argentina) that has drawn twice against Australia and beaten the All Blacks, you have to respect that team.
“They are a serious Tier One nation now, and for this young team to go up against a side like that is exactly what we need.
“It will show them how much hard work they need to put in if they want to play at this level on a regular basis.
“We will need to step it up across our whole game, really. It has highlighted a few things for us that we will go away and work on. We will be tested across the board.”
Canada, who face England at Twickenham next weekend, went ahead through wing Kainoa Lloyd’s early try, but their first Test since the 2019 World Cup ended in a hefty defeat.
Fullback Cooper Coats claimed a late consolation touchdown, converted by flyhalf Peter Nelson, yet it proved a frustrating afternoon for Canada’s Welsh coaching trio of Kingsley Jones, Rob Howley and Byron Hayward.
Jones said: “The way we started was excellent, but Wales kept the ball in hand and they fancied running us off the park, and we hit the wall after about 20 minutes.
“We talked about it at half-time, and for the boys to finish the game the way they did was great.
“It is about the boys getting used to the speed. I thought they adjusted to it. We constructed some nice opportunities, and I think we need to take that into next week against England.”
Tries: T Williams 2, Botham, Holmes 2, Smith, Dee, Rowlands, Basham 2
Cons: Sheedy 7, Thomas 2
Tries: Lloyd, Coats
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Uilisi Halaholo, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Tom Rogers, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 James Botham, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Ben Carter, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Josh Turnbull, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Ben Thomas, 23 Nick Tompkins.
Canada: 15 Cooper Coats, 14 Cole Davis, 13 Ben Lesage, 12 Quinn Ngawati, 11 Kaiona Lloyd, 10 Peter Nelson, 9 Ross Braude, 8 Siaki Vikilani, 7 Lucas Rumball (captain), 6 Reegan O’Gorman, 5 Josh Larsen, 4 Conor Keys, 3 Jake Ilnicki, 2 Andrew Quattrin, 1 Djustive Sears-Duru.
Replacements: 16 Eric Howard, 17 Cole Keith, 18 Tyler Rowland, 19 Donald Carson, 20 Michael Smith, 21 Lucas Albornoz, 22 William Percillier, 23 Robbie Povey.
Referee: Nika Amashukeli
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley, Tom Foley
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Sources: AAP, PA & RugbyPass