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Shane O'Leary lands late equalising kick for Canada as they're held by US in World Cup qualifier

The Cork native and former Connacht player qualifies for the Canucks through his mother.

Image: James Crombie; ©INPHO/James Crombie/INPHO

SHANE O’LEARY landed a late penalty to secure a draw for Canada in the first-leg of their World Cup qualifier with the United States on Saturday.

The Cork native, who wrapped up a three-season stint with Connacht earlier this year, ensured a 28-28 result by nailing a 78th-minute kick but there was still plenty of time for drama as another Irish-born, ex-Connacht player A.J MacGinty missed with a drop goal attempt for the Americans moments later.

Later still, O’Leary tried to steal the victory with a long distance penalty but the effort dropped wide.

The 24-year-old, whose mother is Canadian, was widely involved – kicking three penalties and two conversions though it was from his intercepted pass that Mike Te’o raced 80 yards to touch down for the US and push them ten points clear.

US Canada Rugby O'Leary in action for Canada against the United States in Hamilton, Ontario on Saturday. Source: Michael P. Hall

Still, a late rally – and O’Leary’s boot – enabled Canada, who have former Ulster coach Mark Anscombe in charge, to pull level.

The second-leg is set for San Diego on 1 July and the winner of the aggregate series will slot into the very tough Pool C at the World Cup in two year’s time, alongside England, France, Argentina and another team from Oceania.

Tweet by @Rugby Canada Source: Rugby Canada/Twitter

If O’Leary and his team fail to overcome the US, they still have a chance of reaching Japan in 2019 by virtue of a play-off with Uruguay.

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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