Canada won 41-18 against the USA in the second leg of their play-off in Edmonton on Saturday. The hosts had gone into the second leg needing to overturn a six-point deficit after losing the first encounter 12-6 in Charleston last weekend, USA fly half Mike Hercus kicking four penalties in a tight affair at Blackbaud Stadium.
Canada’s emphatic win at Ellerslie Rugby Park gives them an 47-30 aggregate victory to see them qualify for Rugby World Cup 2011 as Americas 1 to join hosts New Zealand, France, Tonga and the Asian qualifier in Pool A.
The Canadians, had moved ahead on aggregate by the 25th minute with James Pritchard, who had already kicked a penalty, scoring the opening try and converting.
With Canada leading 10-0 after Pritchard added the conversion, things got worse for USA within a minute when centre Paul Emerick was sent off by referee Alan Lewis. The hosts made the most of their man advantage with Adam Kleeberger and Justin Mensah-Coker crossing for tries to make it 24-0 at half time. The Eagles needed to score first if they were to have any hopes of salvaging an unlikely victory against a Canadian outfit playing an attacking brand of rugby. Hercus did just that with a 51st minute penalty, but that was cancelled out by a try from the hosts’ scrum half Ed Fairhurst. Wing Kevin Swiryn crossed for the Eagles’ first try just before the hour mark, a score converted by Hercus and the fly half then kicked a penalty to cut the deficit to 31-13, but there was to be no comeback, Van der Merwe had been exploiting the space created by Emerick’s sending off and creating opportunities for Canada and was finally rewarded for his impressive display when the centre crossed for his side’s fifth try of the afternoon in the 69th minute. Canada increased their advantage when wing Matt Evans touched down, before USA captain Todd Clever scored a consolation try five minutes from time. It was the Canadians and a crowd of around 5,000 who were celebrating come the final whistle.
The USA must now face a home and away play-off against Uruguay to determine the Americas 2 qualifier, who will join Australia, Ireland, Italy and Europe 2 in Pool C. The loser of that tie will have another chance to qualify through the cross-continental final place play-off in 2010.