Wales rely on experience to beat Canada

Wales had to call on the experience of captain Gareth Thomas and Stephen Jones coming off the bench on Sunday to repel Canada and record a 42-17 victory in the second Pool B match at La Beaujoire on Sunday.

Canada were 17-9 ahead close to the hour after three unanswered tries before Wales at last showed some true attacking flair.

Wing Shane Williams went over twice in a spell of total Welsh dominance midway through the second half and Jones converted all but one of the five Welsh tries.

The Welsh fight-back began with centre Sonny Parker touching down near the posts after a break went first right then left, disorientating the Canadian cover.

Jones, on from the 50th minute for James Hook, converted to put the Welsh just one point behind.

They went ahead when Canada flyhalf Ander Munro fumbled a kick out of defence under the posts and lock Alun-Wyn Jones went over for a try.

Williams’s brace, both at the end of movements involving penetrating runs from behind by substitute fullback Thomas, was followed by another try by replacement back row forward Colin Charvis, another member of the Welsh old guard.

Canada finished on a strong note, twice pinning the Welsh on their line in the final minutes but unable to breach it and add to their three tries.

Embarrassment

Wales were only ahead for the first half hour because Hook kicked three penalties out of four, all but one from long range, and punishing Canadian indiscretions in the rucks.

Canada showed a refreshing desire to run their penalties or kick to touch and were rewarded when a blindside break by Munro, who fed fullback Mike Pyke, finished with a ruck close to the Welsh line from which flanker Jamie Cudmore touched down.

Wing James Pritchard missed the conversion but he was successful with the second from a similar position out on the left to give Canada their 12-9 halftime lead following an 80m intercept try by centre Craig Culpan four minutes before the interval.

A Wales counter-attack down the right involving centre Tom Shanklin and Williams led to hooker Matthew Rees being held just short of the line.

When the ball went out to the left from the ruck a try looked on with Canadian defenders outnumbered by Welsh attackers only for Culpan to intercept Hook’s pass. The flyhalf chased Culpan the length of the field but could not catch him.

Five minutes into the second half Canada looked like they could produce a real shock when their livewire scrumhalf and captain Morgan Williams went over the top of a ruck to score their third try.

In the end, however, what had looked like being a dreadful World Cup start for Wales turned into useful preparation for the serious business of facing Australia in Cardiff on Saturday.

There was a minute’s silence before kickoff and Wales wore black armbands as a mark of respect for Tasker Watkins, honorary life vice-president of the Welsh Rugby Union and its president from 1993 to 2004, who died on Saturday night aged 88. – Reuters

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