Original article by Derek Bressette for Rugby Canada
Hamilton, ON – August 25, 2019: A massive second-half effort from Canada fell just short in Canada’s first of three Rugby World Cup warm-up games on home soil, as Leinster squeaked out the winning try on the last play of the game to take it 38-35.
After traveling across the Atlantic, Leinster wasted no time against Canada and jumped out to an early 19-0 lead.
Leinster took advantage of the great field position afforded to them by two Canadian penalties. Leinster built up pressure and after nearly scoring a try on two occasions, Max Deegan finally opened the scoring on the back of strong play from the forwards.
After finding some space, Barry Daly’s pass was intercepted by Tyler Ardron, but Ed Byrne stole the ball back and offload to Bryan Byrne for a try converted by Ciaran Frawley.
Leinster was awarded a scrum 5 metres away from the Canadian line and Caelan Doris picked up the ball to have a crack at a try. He was stopped short, but Deegan was be there to clean it up and pick up his second try of the match.
Canada began to build some pressure towards the end of the half, keeping the ball mostly in Leinster territory until the halftime whistle. However, the defense held strong, turning the Canadians away at every opportunity. Bryan Byrne picked up a yellow card for repeated infractions in the 38th minute and Canada capitalized quickly, pouncing on an overthrown ball from the Leinster lineout and working through some phases before BC’s Evan Olmstead dotted down to end the first half on a high note.
The Canadians picked up right where they left off to begin the 2nd half, applying plenty of pressure early. Tyler Ardron picked the ball from the back of a scrum on Leinster’s 5 and beat the tackle of O’Sullivan for the second Canadian try.
Canada used some nice ball movement in their back line to create an overlap on the left side of Leinster’s defensive line. Patrick Parfrey finished off the play to give Canada their first lead of the game.
Leinster would quickly respond with a great play from the set piece that saw Josh Murphy restore the Leinster lead. It was short lived, as Kyle Baillie charged down a kick from Harry Byrne and score a try just three minutes later. Parfrey added to the lead moments later after Nick Blevins and DTH van der Merwe ran a give-and-go play to open up some space.
Leinster found themselves down 35-24 with just six minutes remaining, but the reigning Pro14 champoins demonstrated plenty of resiliency in those final minutes as they put Canada under immense pressure. Caelan Doris scored a late try, setting up a dramatic finish. As the Leinster forwards wore down the Canadian defense in what would be the final phase of the game, Cian Kelleher’s pass found Keenan who broke the tackle of two Canadian defenders for an 81st minute try and a 38-35 victory for Leinster.
Canada will continue their build to the 2019 Rugby World Cup next week, facing off against the BC All Stars in Langford before their final home match against USA in Vancouver on September 7th. For the Langford match, tickets are available at Eagle Ridge Community Centre, and cost $10 ($5 for children). Tickets will also be available at the gate. For the Vancouver match, please visit https://rugby.ca/en/tickets, or check out our discounted rates for club members on the Membership Benefits page.