All Blacks Too Big a Hill to Climb, Canada Loses 63-0

Lucas Rumball and Matt Heaton led the charge as Canada put in a great defensive performance to shut out the All Blacks…

…in the final 20 minutes of the game to cover the spread.

I’m sorry for the joke, but it is difficult to put a positive spin on a 63-0 loss. The mighty All Blacks came out of the gates guns blazing. They marched right down to the Canadian try line. Their first attempt was held up, but they earned a penalty try on the ensuing scrum. The All Blacks would keep the pressure on and receive tries from Jordie Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams, and Beauden Barrett to take a 28-0 lead into halftime. The flood gates would open in the 2nd half. Williams would step through the Canadian defense before passing to Reiko Ioane to finish the 40th minute try. Scott Barrett would then join his brothers on the scoresheet. The Barrett’s became just the 2nd trio of brothers to start a Rugby World Cup game and all 3 picked up a try in a cool moment.

The All Blacks would add 3 more tries from Shannon Frizell and Brad Weber (2) to go along with Richie Mo’unga’s perfect day from the tee to give the All Blacks a 63-0 lead with 22 minutes remaining. The Canadian defense would not allow another point, but they also failed to score as well. The loss marks the 2nd time that Canada has been shutout at the Rugby World Cup (1995: 20-0 vs South Africa).

The All Blacks were expected to dominate this game and they did. Canada could do little to slow down their attack and were absolutely no match for them at the set-piece. Williams and Beauden Barrett were able to constantly poke holes in the Canadian defense through a variety of methods. The All Blacks used a variety of attacking lines, grubber kicks, cross-field kicks, and offloads too frequently and easily open up holes in the Canadian defense. TJ Perenara sent a cross-field kick to Jordie Barrett who just camped under it in the try zone like an outfielder waiting for a pop fly. No defender was even close to him.

The score reads 63-0, but it could have been a lot worse.

The humidity in Oita Stadium was immense. The conditions made the ball rather slippery and both sides struggled to hold onto the ball. The All Blacks had an uncharacteristic 19 handling errors in this match. Many of those errors were certain tries as well. Ultimately, this game looked like the best team in the world playing someone well below their skill level.

Source: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Canada’s downfall in this game was the result of the same weaknesses that have plagued them all year. Unfortunately, they were playing the All Blacks today, so those weaknesses were magnified.

The scrum was absolutely no match for the All Blacks. The All Blacks frequently earned penalties in the scrum or just bulldozed their way through Canada. The All Blacks had the Canadian pack on skis and asserted their dominance throughout the match. It did give the All Blacks a chance to try out some new set-piece plays though. It’s rare to see a team ask for a scrum after a penalty on the halfway line and the All Blacks seemed to hold their scrum just so the backs could run this play. Weber passed to Jordie, to Mo’unga, back inside to Weber who had a massive hole to fly through for his 2nd try. So, Steve, the play works.

The lineout has been an area of concern all year as well. Shannon Frizell, Scott Barrett, and Kieran Read had an absolute field day within the lineout. Whether it was Eric Howard or Andrew Quattrin throwing and regardless of who was jumping, they made quick work of the lineout and combined for 5 lineout steals. Canada’s lineout success rate was a measly 50% largely because of Frizell, Scott, and Read.

There was a specific lineout that just highlighted some of Canada’s issues this year. After a Williams’ knock-on, Lucas Rumball would spring Peter Nelson. Nelson would be tracked down by Beauden just 5m shy of the try line, but Rumball drew a penalty on Read. Canada opted for the lineout. Howard’s throw connected with Ardron and Canada began to drive their maul. The ball was available temporarily, but McRorie just waited. And waited. Until the All Blacks came through and held up the ball. It was very similar to the match against Fiji where Canada repeatedly tried the same play at the lineout. That was Canada’s only lineout inside the All Blacks’ 22 that half and their best chance to score all game.

I have talked about this a lot, but Canada needs to hold onto possession of the ball when they have it. Gordon McRorie utilized the box kick a few too many times again in this game. Hopefully, Beauden Barrett and the All Blacks ran enough counter attacks back at him to show McRorie (and Kingsley Jones) that this is not working.

One box kick, in particular, had the Canadian media and fans screaming. Ioane did well to take the high ball and offloaded to Beauden who led the counter-attack. The All Blacks would effortlessly slice through Canada and Weber would be the man to score the try. Canada worked tirelessly on defense all game.

Why give the ball right back to the best team in the world? Canada is clearly favouring this strategy, but they need to start making the most out of their possessions and hang onto the ball.

It was a sobering result, but we are going to end the article on a positive note. Matt Heaton struggled against Italy picking up a yellow card and knocking on a sure try. He bounced back in a massive way against the All Blacks. With Canada playing defense all game, Heaton was 2nd on the team with 14 tackles and added a turnover. Many of his 14 tackles were of the thunderous variety as well.

The only man in the game with more tackles than Heaton was Lucas Rumball who finished with 17. Rumball completed his tackles at a 94% success rate. Rumball was a force on both sides of the ball. He had the offload that put Nelson in a footrace with Beauden on Canada’s best scoring opportunity of the game. Rumball also drew a no arms call on Read to set up the lineout that followed. Canada’s work ethic is still shining through despite the scoreline. Heaton put a previous bad performance behind him and Rumball gutted out 80 minutes of rugby against the best team in the world with a fractured finger.

Heaton, Rumball and the rest of Canada’s Rugby World Cup does not get any easier. They take on the Springboks next on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 at 6:15 am. You can follow me on Twitter @Bressette4 for all your news on Canada’s Rugby World Cup campaign.

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