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As it happened: Tonga vs. Canada

Could Tonga avenge their opening-day defeat to the All Blacks, or would Canada work some magic? Read our liveblog to find out.

Image : Ross Land/AP/Press Association Images
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Tonga 20 -25 Canada

The loin cloth guy has blown his horn, we’ve heard “Oh, Canada” and we’ve seen the Kailao…

Canada’s James Pritchard gets us underway.

Just as the ball pings about in midfield:

Tonga– Morath, Vainikolo, Piutau, Fatifehi, Helu, Moa, Palu; Taumalolo, Taukafa, Pulu, Timani, Lokotui, Maka, Vaiomunga, Vahafolau.

Canada– Pritchard, Hearn, Van Der Merwe, Smith, Mackenzie, Monro; Buydens, Riordan, Marshall, Sinclair, Cudmore, Kleeberger, O’Toole, Carpenter.

Strong Tongan ball-carrying has dominated the opening minutes of the match. After gathering Pritchard’s opening kick, the Pacific islanders drove through a full fifteen phases before the concession of a set piece brought a halt to their forward march.

Great response from Canada! Having withstood all that early pressure, the North Americans win a turnover metres short of the Tongan line. Their opening offensive salvo proves a brief one, but it’ll be enough to make their opponents think twice.

Try for Canada! Some quick hands and pace from Monro and Mackenzie in the middle of the park clear the way for big Jebb Sinclair to power over in the right corner.

Pitchard slots the conversion.

Tonga 0 -7 Canada

Canada are playing in black today; it’s quite possible the Tongans are beginning to suffer traumatic flashbacks.

Kurt Morath finds himself with a penalty about 35 metres about, but the fullback drags his effort wide. Yet to get off the mark, and with a handful of elementary handling errors already to their name, Tonga are beginning to look a little anxious.

Canada are penalised for an infringement at the breakdown and Morath finds himself with a virtual repeat of his previous attempt. Perhaps overcompensating for the influence of the wind, this one is wafted low and right of the posts.

Some notes on Canadian hair: Adam Kleeberger’s enormous lumberjack beard is strangely intimidating, while Van Der Merwe’s spiky, bleached mop is, in the parlance of the internets, a FAIL of epic proportions.

Canada squander a try-scoring opportunity through some panicked ball-handling, but the blow is softened somewhat when Fatafehi is pinged for being miles off-side. The penalty couldn’t be less challenging.

Tonga 0 – 10 Canada

Tonga have already made a number of shocking errors. Moa is guilty of the most recent, touching a ball he had no chance of gathering and letting it trickle out of play.

The handling error count is 5 – 1 in favour of Canada.

Ryan Hamilton is on at loose head for Canada and announces his presence by conceding  a penalty.

Carpenter and Van Der Merwe blaze towards a stetched Tongan defence at pace, but the No8′s kick over the top is an awful one and it trundles out of play.

Forwards, even unusually small and nippy ones like Carpenter, should never kick the ball.

Samoa finally begin to string some passes together, but the move breaks down when Ander Monro interposes himself between Moa and Helu. It was probably accidental, but the fly-half was a long way off-side.

Morath decides to kick to the corner.

Echoing their spell of pressure at the beginning of the half, Tonga take the ball through over fifteen phases. Canada, living increasingly on the edge as the onslaught gathered momentum, fail to spot Moa and Piutau drifting wide. Spun away from the ruck at speed, the ball makes its way to the centre, who, arcing his run close to right touchline, runs the ball all the way in.

Morath pops the conversion over.

Tonga 7 – 10 Canada

Half-time: After a half during which they struggled to cope with the pressure Canada applied at the breakdown, Tonga go into the interval within a score of the lead.

… and we’re underway!

Kleeberger, he of the enomormous beard, is penalised for not (shaving) releasing and Morath finds himself with another penalty opportunity, this time from about 40 metres out. This one, unlike his previous efforts, sails between the posts.

Tonga 10 – 10 Canada

Undaunted, Canada hit right back, forcing a penalty from Tonga. Pritchard makes no mistake and the Canucks nudge their way in front again.

Tonga 10 -13 Canada

Canada bring a threatening spell of Tongan possession to an end by driving aggressively over the top of a ruck and earning themselves a turnover.

A stunning break from Van Der Merwe in the centre channel sparks a confident Canadian move, but the ball is lost forward in contact and the Canucks, scrambling to coordinate their efforts, are forced to clear to touch.

The resulting lineout offers Tonga a base from which to launch an attack, and, after catching the Canadian defence unawares, a straightforward switch inside sees Siule Piutau over for his second try of the match!

Morath’s conversion is a matter of routine.

Tonga 17 – 10 Canada

A misjudged grubber kick through the Canadian line sends a chasing Fatafehi clattering into the advertising hoarding beyond the pitch. The referee was playing advantage, however, and the ball comes back for a scrum.

Tongan indiscipline again proves the difference at the breakdown and Canada are awarded a penalty.

Penalty! Canada are pinged for a technical infringement at the scrum (Marshall’s binding was off, just in case you were wondering) and Morath finds himself with an opportunity to stretch Tonga’s lead to ten points.

It floats wide.

Tonga 20 – 13 Canada

Canada have another try! Strong running from Aaron Carpenter and Conor Trainor sends the Canucks over in the right corner. Carpenter’s work rate is phenomenal: he appeared to be on the shoulder of every runner during that move. While Trainor, only on the field a matter of minutes, powered his way through three tackles before popping the ball up to the No8, who was— you guessed it– on his left shoulder.

Pritchard makes the conversion. We have a game on our hands!

Tonga 20 – 20 Canada

This is incredible! Canada have another!

A sidestep from Ander Monro makes a space for a quick interchange between Ryan Smith and Phil Mackenzie. The latter, set on his way only ten metres short of the line, suddenly has a couple of yards to call his own and simply cannot be stopped.

Tonga 20 – 25 Canada

Canada are within five minutes of a historic victory and, inspiring though there performance has been, Tonga allowed it to happen. They’ve undercut their own efforts at every turn.

What have they done…?

The Canucks smother the ball at the breakdown and wrest a scrum from Tonga. The pack are celebrating, and with good reason: that phase may well have earned the North Americans their first World Cup victory in nearly eight years.

Canada wind the clock down and, as the game tips into overtime, boot the ball to touch. It’s all over!

Full-time: Tonga 20 – 25 Canada

Well, they said there’d be an upset somewhere along the way… and there it is. Does that mean that Ireland can’t lose to Italy?

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