Canada beat Italy A, 26-12, to open the 2011 Churchill Cup in Northampton, England.
|Chauncey O'Toole stretches the Italy A defense. (Ian Muir photos)|
|A Canadian jumper claims the ball in a lineout over Marco Bortolami of Italy A.|
Down 9-6 at the half to the Six Nations development side, Canada exploded for three second half tries, two within four minutes of the restart.
Despite the scores from No. 8 Aaron Carpenter, prop Jason Marshall and fullback James Pritchard, it was the manic running of flanker Chauncey O'Toole that saw Canada through on the day.
Named Man of the Match by the Sky TV Broadcast crew, the New Brunswick native had a huge afternoon with the ball in hand, setting up many Canadian opportunities and directly feeding Pritchard for the third Canadian try.
Coach Kieran Crowley was very pleased with the win, but was torn on what aspect of play caught his attention more.
"It was a pleasing victory, but more so because we didn't allow any tries on the day," the soft-spoken New Zealander offered.
On the play of O'Toole, who the coach had said was the form player in Canada coming into the tournament, he said, "He did very well, and that resulted in other people doing well."
Crowley points to the final minute of the game where a disciplined Canada squad repelled over a dozen phases within a metre of the line, a sign of maturity in this World Cup year.
Crowely offered that defense coach Clive Griffiths, who coached many of the Canadians in North Wales this past winter, was grinning "like a little gnome."
O'Toole, 23, who was playing in his 12th game in a Canada jersey, agreed that despite not getting on the score sheet his contributions made for a good day personally.
"Absolutely, it was a good day. Whenever you get the W, that makes it all worth while," said the former resident of Belle Isle in New Brunswick.
"They were a solid team," O'Toole said of Italy A, "but we just really put things together.
Ander (Monro) put me into a space a few times, and everyone played very well," he concluded in his typical understated fashion.
It was an uninspiring opening half as the teams jockeyed for field position and neither side really threatened the other's try line.
Canada jumped to a 3-0 lead in the eighth minute from an Italian infringement as James Pritchard hit for a 28-meter effort.
In the 13th minute a huge kick by Italy deep into Canadian territory was heroically defended by prop Jason Marshall who showed great pace in legging it back to cover the Italian intrusion.
The Italians equalized in the 17th minute for a Canada offside.
At the half hour mark a delayed penalty on the Italian 22-meter line offered Ander Monro a free shot at a drop-goal, which he calmly slotted for a 6-3 Canada lead.
It only took Italy two minutes to get those points back with another Tito Tebaldi penalty, 6-6 after 31 minutes.
Just before the half Canada gave away another penalty for an infringement at the break down.
Canada seemed inspired in the second half and put Italy under pressure right from the kick off.
Within a couple of minutes Canada was parked on the Italian line. A knock-on by Italy from a Canadian turnover gave Canada a scrum five meters out. Brantford's Aaron Carpenter took the ball from the back of the scrum, drove left and was stopped at the line but touched down. The whistle came and the referee asked for assistance from the Television Match Official. The try was awarded after several minutes reviewing the replay.
Then two minutes later a sustained Canada attack saw Jason Marshall touch down, also on the line, and a second request for help came, again netting a Canadian try.
With the Canadians now in the lead 16-9 they began to play with flourish and passion, not letting up the pressure on the Italians.
It appeared Canada might have a third try that would need verification, as Jebb Sinclair got across the line but was held up by Italy.
Chauncey O'Toole led the way on the Canadian attack all afternoon, finding and shattering the gain line with nearly every touch of the ball and keeping the ball alive at key moments.
Italy scored a penalty in the 63rd minute but there seemed to be little else they could offer against the well-organized defense of Canada.
In the 56th minute the feisty New Brunswick native found a seam inside the Italian half, running some 25 meters before offloading to a streaking James Pritchard who closed the last 15 meters under the posts.
Pritchard converted his own try and Canada were well in the lead at 23-9. A Pritchard penalty in the 70th minute gave Canada a 14 point lead.
Canada held off a late charge by the Azzurri and what looked like an Italian try in the 82nd minute was in fact a penalty to Canada. The resulting kick into touch brought the final whistle and the start of a huge Canadian celebration.
Canada now take on Russia on Wednesday night at Esher RFC. A victory there would give Canada a second straight berth into the Churchill Cup final.
For more information on the Churchill Cup go to www.churchillcuprugby.net. For more information on the Canadian rugby team visit www.rugbycanada.ca.
Canada 26 (6)
Tries: Aaron Carpenter, Jason Marshall, James Pritchard
Conversions: James Pritchard
Drop-Goal: Ander Monro
Penalties: James Pritchard (2)
Italy A 12 (9)
Penalties: Tito Tebaldi (4)
1. Hubert Buydens - Prairie Wolf Pack/CRC (Regina, SASK)
2. Pat Riordan (Captain) - B.C. Bears/CRC (Burnaby, B.C.)
3. Jason Marshall - B.C. Bears/CRC (Vancouver, B.C.)
4. Tyler Hotson - Plymouth Albion/PRO (Vancouver, B.C.)
5. Brian Erichsen - B.C. Bears/CRC (Vancouver, B.C.)
6. Jebb Sinclair - The Rock/CRC (Fredericton, N.B.)
7. Chauncey O'Toole - The Rock/CRC (Belle Isle, N.B.)
8. Aaron Carpenter - Plymouth Albion/UK (Brantford, ON)
9. Ed Fairhurst - UBC Ravens (Victoria, BC)
10. Ander Monro - Ontario Blues (Victoria, B.C.)
11. Phil Mackenzie - Esher/UK (Oakville, ON)
12. Ryan Smith - Prairie Wolf Pack/CRC (Caledon, ON)
13. Conor Trainor - B.C. Bears/CRC (Vancouver, B.C.)
14. Ciaran Hearn - The Rock/CRC (Conception Bay, NFLD)
15. James Pritchard - Bedford Blues/UK (Parkes, NSW, Australia)
16. Ryan Hamilton - B.C. Bears/CRC (West Vancouver, B.C.)
17. Andrew Tiedemann - Prairie Wolf Pack/CRC (St. Albert, AB)
18. Mitch Gudgeon - B.C. Bears/CRC (Victoria, B.C.)
19. Nanyak Dala Prairie Wolf Pack/CRC (Saskatoon, SASK)
20. Sean White - B.C. Bears/CRC (Victoria, B.C.)
21. Mike Scholz Ontario Blues/CRC (Oakville, ON)
22. Matt Evans - Unattached (Duncan, B.C.)
1. Alberto De Marchi (MPS Aironi)
2. Tommaso D'Apice (Futura Park Rugby Roma)
3. Fabio Staibano (MPS Aironi, 9 caps)
4. Corniel Van Zyl (Benetton Treviso)
5. Marco Bortolami (MPS Aironi, 84 caps)
6. Valerio Bernabo' (Benetton Treviso, 19 caps)(C)
7. Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Francais, 84 caps)
8. Manoa Vosawai (Benetton Treviso, 8 caps)
9. Tito Tebaldi (MPS Aironi, 14 caps)
10. Riccardo Bocchino (MPS Aironi, 6 caps)
11. Michele Sepe (Benetton Treviso, 3 caps)
12. Matteo Pratichetti (MPS Aironi, 22 caps)
13. Denis Majstorovic (Estra I Cavalieri Prato)
14. Andrea Bacchetti (Femi-CZ Rovigo, 2 caps)
15. Ruggero Trevisan (BancaMonteParma Crociati)
16. Andrea Manici (HBS GranDucato Parma)
17. Matias Aguero (MPS Aironi, 17 caps)
18. Dario Chistolini (Petrarca Padova)
19. Joshua Furno (MPS Aironi)
20. Francesco Minto (Benetton Treviso)
21. Giulio Toniolatti (MPS Aironi, 5 caps)
22. Durandt Gerber (HBS GranDucato Parma)