TORONTO, ON – Sakaria Taulafo scored a last gasp try as Samoa edged Canada 21-20 at the Pacific Nations Cup Wednesday night in Toronto
Canada was in prime position to pick up their first win of the PNC but Taulafo caught a loose ball off a ricochet from a lineout and dived over to secure Samoa’s spot in Monday’s PNC final.
“I think we played our absolute hearts out,” Canada captain Tyler Ardron said. “I don’t think anyone could have done any better. Obviously the ball didn’t bounce our way, a couple of lucky tries for them kind of let us down.
“They weren’t really breaking us and we got a lot going forward. When you go out and put it all out there like we did and play well, you just have to accept the result. It’s disappointing but we did play well.”
Canada had gone 20-16 ahead in the 76th minute when Phil Mackenzie scored his fifth test try. A Nathan Hirayama kick bounced near the touchline where Conor Trainor saved the loose ball with a flashy behind the back pass that found Mackenzie who pierced through the Samoan line and touched down before James Pritchard slotted home the conversion.
“A lot of positives but I’m absolutely gutted,” Canada head coach Kieran Crowley said. “The boys dug deep, they really put it all in there but to lose in it in the final moments is pretty disappointing.”
However, Samoa earned two quick penalties and found themselves at the Canadian five meter line where Taulafo collected the loose ball and dove over in the 81st minute for his first test try in 35 games.
Canada had gotten off to a flying start as they built a 13-0 lead inside 13 minutes.
James Pritchard kicked Canada ahead with a 3rd minute penalty, and by doing so, became the 20th player in World Rugby test history to score 600 points.
Canada’s lead was soon 10-0 as Nick Blevins scored his third test try. After Trainer was tackled, the ball popped loose, bounced off of Blevins’ knee into the dead ball area but he was first to react, touching down for the try. Pritchard added the conversion before kicking his second penalty of the game a few minutes later after Paul Perez was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Mackenzie.
Michael Stanley got Samoa on the board in the 24th minute with a penalty after Thyssen de Goede, who replaced captain Tyler Ardron in the fourth minute, was called for coming in at the side.
Bristol prop Anthony Perenise collected his fourth test try five minutes into the second half as he was the beneficiary of some quick ball movement. Stanley added the conversion, cutting the Canada lead to 13-10.
Hirayama missed a drop goal in the 62nd minute and Stanley replied with a long range penalty two minutes later to bring the scores level. Stanley then kicked Samoa ahead as his penalty from the half way line soared between the posts with room to spare.
“We knew it was going to be a pretty physical game but we dug in,” Canadian scrum half Phil Mack said. “We just threw everything at them. We had nothing to lose and that’s the attitude we carried into this game.”
Mackenzie’s try would send BMO Field into an uproar before Taulafo’s try kept Samoa unbeaten at the Pacific Nations Cup.
“It was a tough game,” Samoa captain Alesana Tuilagi said. “We had to really work for it. Canada gave us a good run from the beginning until the end. We need to cut down the simple mistakes. In the final, we can’t afford to do that.”
Canada, who entered the game 0-4 against Samoa all-time, made wholesale changes to their lineup as Crowley kept only three players in the starting XV that lost to Tonga Friday night.
“We made the changes because we had to find out about a few guys to see if they would step up,” Crowley said. “They’ve put the pressure back on us and pressure on the guys who didn’t play so that’s great.”
Canada will now face the USA on Monday at Swangard Stadium to conclude their Pacific Nations Cup campaign.
Canada’s Roster vs. Samoa in the Pacific Nations Cup – (Club), Hometown, Province
1 – Djustice Sears-Duru – (Oakville Crusaders/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
2 – Ray Barkwill – (Castaway Wanderers/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
3 – Doug Wooldridge – (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
4 – Tyler Hotson – (Doncaster Knights) Vancouver, BC
5 – Evan Olmstead – (Parramatta Two Blues/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
6 – Kyle Gilmour – (Rotherham Titans/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
7 – John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
8 – Tyler Ardron – Captain (Ospreys) Lakefield, ON
9 – Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
10 – Nathan Hirayama – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
11 – Matt Evans – (Cornish Pirates) Maple Bay, BC
12 – Nick Blevins – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
13 – Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
14 – Phil Mackenzie – (Sale Sharks/Ontario Blues), Oakville, ON
15 – James Pritchard – (Bedford Blues) Parkes, NSW, Australia
16 – Benoit Piffero – (Blagnac/Atlantic Rock) Montreal QB
17 – Hubert Buydens – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
18 – Andrew Tiedemann – (Plymouth Albion/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
19 – Callum Morrison – (UBC Old Boys Ravens/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
20 – Thyssen de Goede – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
21 – Aaron Carpenter – (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues) Brantford, ON
22 – Gordon McRorie – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
23 – Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
Samoa’s Roster vs. Canada in the Pacific Nations Cup:
1. Viliamu Afatia
2. Motu Matuu
3. Anthony Perenise
4. Filo Paulo
5. Joe Tekori
6. Faifili Levave
7. Tj Ioane
8. Vavae Tuilagi
9. Pele Cowley
10. Michael Stanley
11. Alesana Tuilagi (C)
12. Faialaga Afamasaga
13. Paul Perez
14. Sinoti Sinoti
15. Ah See Tuala
16. Andrew Williams
17. Sakaria Taulafo
18. Jake Grey
19. Maselino Paulino
20. Francis Saufoi
21. Vavao Afemai
22. Patrick Faapale
23. Faleniu Iosi
Tries: Nick Blevins, Phil Mackenzie
Conversions: James Pritchard (2)
Penalties: James Pritchard (2)
Tries: Anthony Perenise, Sakaria Taulafo
Conversions: Michael Stanley (1)
Penalties: Michael Stanley (3)
2015 Pacific Nations Cup Standings:
1. Fiji — 11 points
2. Samoa — 11 points
3. Tonga — 8 points
4. Japan — 6 points
5. USA — 5 points
6. Canada — 1 point
Canada Senior Men’s Schedule:
Pacific Nations Cup:
July 18 – Canada 6-20 Japan (San Jose, USA)
July 24 – Canada 18-28 Tonga (Swangard Stadium, Burnaby)
July 29 – Canada 20-21 Samoa (BMO Field, Toronto)
August 3 – Canada vs. USA (Swangard Stadium, Burnaby)
Road to the Rugby World Cup:
August 22 – Canada vs. USA (Twin Elm Rugby Park, Ottawa)
August 29 – Canada vs. Glasgow Warriors (Wanderers Grounds, Halifax)
September 2 – Canada vs. Georgia (Esher, England)
September 6 – Canada vs. Fiji (The Stoop, England)
Rugby World Cup:
September 19 – Canada vs. Ireland (Cardiff, Wales)
September 26 – Canada vs. Italy (Leeds, England)
October 1 – Canada vs. France (Milton Keynes, England)
October 6 – Canada vs. Romania (Leicester, England)