Under the Langford lights on Saturday, the Canadian men’s 15s rugby team beat Chile in walk-off fashion during the first match of a two-game World Cup-qualifier series.
The 22-21 victory at Starlight Stadium gives Canada the slight advantage as the team heads to Chile next Saturday and as both teams vie for the best two-match score. Canada is looking to win the series and move on to a playoff for the last Americas spot in the 2023 France World Cup.
Much of the first half saw both sides locked in scrum play, with Chile keeping the ball in Canada’s end. The visitors would open the scoring on a penalty kick halfway through the first, before adding another just under 10 minutes later to go up 6-0.
But on Canada’s first trip deep in Chile territory, they were able to push the South Americans back before Corey Thomas inched over the line for the match’s first try. The Chileans would add another successful kick in the last seconds of the half to go up 9-5 heading into the break.
The offense for both countries came alive in the second half.
Canada found itself on Chile’s try line just minutes into second. Ross Braude pulled the ball out of the scrum and broke to his right. A hard head fake to his right would get a Chile player to bite before he cut back left and dove through a two-foot window for Canada’s second try. They’d convert on the extra point to get their first lead of the qualifier, going ahead 12-9.
Feeding off that momentum, the Canadians would get the first substantial run of the game five minutes later as they streaked down the right side. They’d quickly work the ball left and Braude extended the lead with his second try of the match.
Chile secured a line-out shortly after and Clemente Saavedra ran it in for a try. A conversion that just stayed inside the right upright would get Chile within a score. Canada then made several inspired drives bringing them within a couple metres of the Chile goal, but would be stopped short every time.
Chile regained the lead after a low line-out toss seemed to catch the Canadians off guard on their own try line. The score would put the away team up by one with just over 10 minutes remaining.
In the final two minutes, Canada made a relentless push along Chile’s 22-meter line but came up short. The home team would get a final shot at the win on a Rob Povey penalty kick, which he’d put through the uprights for the walk-off win.
Braude, with his two tries, would take home man of the match honours.
Lucas Rumball, Canada’s captain, said post-game that they’ll have to execute under pressure and bring all of their skill when they play the second match against Chile on Oct. 9.
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