CANADA THIS EVENING sealed the final qualifying place for next year’s Rugby World Cup with a commanding 27-10 win over Hong Kong.
The win in Marseille means Canada keep up their record of appearing in every edition of the World Cup since its inception, but they will face a tough time in Pool B as they are awaited by Namibia, Italy, South Africa and New Zealand.
The Asia Rugby Championship winners faced an uphill task to qualify via this repechage finale as they required a bonus point win while denying the Canucks a losing bonus.
Kingsley Jones’ men went a long way to dispelling any doubt with hooker Ray Barkwill crossing in the 18th minute before Glasgow Warriors wing DTH van der Merwe capitalised on an error in the Hong Kong back-field to extend the lead to 14-3 before half-time.
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Hong Kong rallied after the restart, with Conor Hartley powering into the corner early in the second half and Matthew Rosslee slotted a brilliant conversion to narrow the gap to 14-10.
Ray Barkwill scores the opening try of the game for Canada. Source: Claude Paris
But Canada regained control after that pressure and Gordon McRorie added two penalties to his two first-half conversions to give Canada a 10-point cushion as the 70th minute approached. And it was in that minute that Van der Merwe again showed his class, powering through two flailing tackles on the left wing before grounding in a muddy corner of Stade Delort.
Canada’s campaign in Japan will begin on 26 September in Fukuoka against Conor O’Shea’s Azzurri.