Canada fight back for victory
Canada created the first upset of the 2011 Rugby World Cup with a 25-20 win over Tonga at the Northland Events Centre on Wednesday.
It was a fitting result for the team affectionately known as the Canucks, after they had earlier led 10-0, while they also knuckled down when they were behind to seal the deal.
Tonga, meanwhile, were left to rue their tactical decision in making 11 changes to the team that went down valiantly to the All Blacks in the opening match of the tournament and are winless after two matches so far to be bottom of Pool A.
Tongan fans wanting a fast start were left shaking their heads after Canada's Jebb Sinclair scored the first try.
Less than five minutes later James Pritchard converted a penalty to give the Canucks a surprise 10-0 lead.
But the South Pacific team known as the 'Ikale Tahi' stood tall and with time up on the clock and having completed 18 phases, Wellington and Highlanders centre Siale Piutau scored near the posts to give the team some hope heading into half-time.
Tonga drew level early in the second half after Sinclair was ruled to have held on to the tackler, but Canada wrestled their three-point lead back with another penalty to Pritchard.
Canadian fans were screaming at referee Johnathan Kaplan after he missed an apparent deliberate foot trip that would normally warrant a yellow card.
Tonga hit back again through Piutau, who sliced through the Canadian backline to score his second of the match as Tonga took a 17-13 lead with 25 minutes to play.
The rain came and went, but Canada stood tall, and despite conceding a second Morath penalty the Canucks showed they were not out of the match, and when Aaron Carpenter barelled over for their second try the Canadians were within three points of the lead.
It made for a tense final 10 minutes of the game, but Canada's momentum swing was complete when Kaplan awarded them a penalty, which they decided not to kick.
It paid off after Phil Mackenzie dotted down next to the posts to give the unfancied minnows the lead back with four minutes to play.
As the full-time whistle blew, Canadian fans celebrated like they had won the World Cup. Their enthusiasm, passion and constant development under Kiwi coach Kieran Crowley shows they will be a team to watch in the future.
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