Wales struggle to put Canada away

Wales needed two consecutive penalty tries to overcome a feisty Canada as it labored to win their rugby international 34-13 at Millennium Stadium on Friday.


The first of teenage winger Leigh Halfpenny’s two tries regained Wales the lead just before halftime, but it led only 13-6 until the start of the last quarter, when the powerful Welsh scrum was collapsed twice in 10 minutes by the Canadians on their own tryline, and referee Stu Dickinson didn’t hesitate to award penalty tries.


“The referee said we were pulling it. That was his interpretation of it. That was tough,” Canada hooker and captain Pat Riordan said.


“We saw something a bit different but at the end of the day he has the whistle.”


Up 27-6, the Wales team of largely backup players cruised home to the frustration of their 59,000 fans, who expected a much better display from the Six Nations champion.


“I was pleased with the victory, but not so pleased with the performance,” said Wales coach Warren Gatland, who noted 30 turnovers compared to 19 last week in the 20-15 loss to South Africa.


Canada lost 55-0 to Ireland last weekend, and the embarrassment spurred the mainly amateur side against a Welsh team which had 12 changes from the lineup which lost to the Springboks.


“We knew they were going to be a hard team to break down but they were harder than we thought,” said Wales flanker Dafydd Jones.


“Our scrum went well, but they picked their game up and generally made it tough for us.”


Canada fullback James Pritchard kicked a 10th-minute penalty and the home side lost James Hook with a knee tendon injury in the 18th soon after he missed a routine goalkick. He was doubtful for next weekend’s game against New Zealand.


The Welsh struggled to deal with Canada’s repeated high kicks but scored the first try in the 25th when fullback Morgan Stoddart took a pass from center Tom Shanklin and went over in the corner.


Hook’s replacement, Dan Bigger, missed the conversion and Canada regained the lead at 6-5 with Pritchard’s 50-meter penalty.


But Wales went into halftime leading 10-6 when Halfpenny ran through the defense for a solo try in the final minute of the half.


Wales coach Warren Gatland took off captain and No. 8 Ryan Jones only 10 minutes into the second half.


But even without him, their pack’s pressure was unrelenting, and Biggar converted both penalty tries before the replacement flyhalf had a pass intercepted by Canada center Ryan Smith for the visitor’s only try.


“I think we put some pride back into the Canada jersey,” Canada coach Kieran Crowley said.


“I was very pleased and impressed with the heart we showed.”


Just before time, Halfpenny claimed his second try, finishing off a scintillating breakout from Wales’ own territory, started by Jamie Roberts.


Next week, Canada faces Scotland.


Final Score Wales 34 (10) Canada 13 (5)

Scorers:

Wales
Tries Leigh Halfpenny 2, Morgan Stoddart ,Penalty 2
Con – Dan Biggar
Pen – Dan Biggar


Canada
Tries – Ryan Smith
Pen – James Pritchard 2
Con – James Pritchard


Teams


Wales Morgan Stoddart; Leigh Halfpenny, Tom Shanklin, Andrew Bishop, Mark Jones; James Hook, Martin Roberts; Ryan Jones (capt), Robin Sowden-Taylor, Dafydd Jones; Luke Charteris, Ian Gough; Rhys Thomas, Richard Hibbard, John Yapp


Replacements: Matthew Rees, Eifion Roberts, Alun Wyn Jones, Andy Powell, Dwayne Peel, Dan Biggar, Jamie Roberts


Canada James Pritchard; Ciaran Hearn, Bryn Keys, Ryan Smith, Justin Mensah-Coker; Ander Monro, Ed Fairhurst; Aaron Carpenter, Adam Kleeberger, Jebb Sinclair; Josh Jackson, Tyler Hotson; Jon Thiel, Pat Riordan (capt), Kevin Tkachuk


Replacements: Mike Pletch, Frank Walsh, Mike B

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