Venue: Northland Events Centre, Whangarei
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Preview Canada begins their 2011 Rugby World Cup finals programme with a tough task facing Tonga. The Tongan’s played in the remarkable opening game, giving the All Blacks a huge second half fright. The question is can they maintain that momentum against a Canadian side with an impressive recent record?
Canada’s recent form is impressive. They lost to an Australian Barbarians team recent, 11-38, that contained a number of Wallabies on the fringe of selection or who missed out on the World Cup squad. Prior to that they defeated the USA in a pre-World Cup doubled-header. In the Churchill Cup they defeated Russia and Italy ‘A’ before losing to England Saxons 6-37 in the final. In their European Autumn tour in 2010 they lost to Georgia 15-22, but defeated Belgium, Spain and Portugal.
Tonga comes into this game already ahead of Tonga on what is required of teams in World Cup pool matches. A loss almost means catch up rugby in order to qualify. Tonga is ahead on most recent form. Canada can certainly match their physical approach to the game which means Tonga may have to play with as much determination if not more than what they showed against the All Blacks if they are to win this game. Tonga will also be without much of their Auckland-based army of supporters.
How will Tonga fare without much of their Auckland-based
Canada’s non nonsense and physical approach might just see them ahead at the end. I think it will be close.
Previous Encounters 29.10.2003 Canada 24-7 in Wollongong (World Cup, Pool C)
20.05.2000 Canada 29-11 in Vancouver (Pacific Rim)
03.07.1999 Tonga 18-10 in Nuku’alofa (Pacific Rim)
24.05.1987 Canada 37-4 in Napier (World Cup)
25.10.1974 Tonga 40-14 in Vancouver
GWC Rugby Rankings World Table-Tonga 14th, Canada 16th
IRB Ranking Points Tonga 72.48, Canada 71.56
Prediction: Canada by 4 points
Tonga 15 Kurt Morath, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Alipate Fatafehi, 11 William Helu, 10 Taniela Moa, 9 Thomas Palu, 8 Samiu Vahafolau, 7 Sione Vaiomounga, 6 Finau Maka, Capt. 5 Tukulua Lokotui, 4 Sione Timani, 3 Kisi Pulu, 2 Ephraim Taukafa, 1 Alisona Taumalolo.
16 Aloisio Ma'asi, 17 Soane Tonga'uiha, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Viliami Ma'afu, 20 Sione Kalamafoni, 21 Viliame Iongi, 22 Alaska Taufa.
Head Coach: 'Isitolo Maka
Canada 15 James Pritchard, 14 Ciaran Hearn, 13 DTH Van Der Merwe, 12 Ryan Smith, 11 Phillip Mackenzie, 10 Ander Monro, 9 Edward Fairhurst, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 Chauncey O'Toole, 6 Adam Kleeberger, 5 James Cudmore, 4 Jebb Sinclair, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Patrick Riordan, Capt. 1 Hubert Buydens.
16 Ryan Hamilton, 17 Scott Franklin, 18 Tyler Hotson, 19 Nanyak Dala, 20 Conor Trainor, 21 Sean White, 22 Nathan Hirayama
Head Coach: Kieran Crowley