Canada Resumes UK Tour, Next Stop England
Source: Rugby Canada via Twitter
Rugby Canada is off to Twickenham to battle England in the second and final game of their UK tour. The week before Canada fell 68-12 to Wales. Despite the lopsided score line there were plenty of positives to take from the match. Specifically, Canada’s work in the ruck and tackling was solid. A big set piece try scored by Cooper Coats (in his first cap) is also a big confidence boost. Kingsley Jones will be looking for those positives to continue into the match with England.
Eddie Jones’ side is coming off a 43-29 win over the USA. Jones took the opportunity to cap many of England’s young stars for the first time. Overall, the win was solid. However, England was up 26-3 at halftime and the massive second half surge from the Americans, that saw them outscore England 26-17 in the final 40, surely left a bit of a sour taste.
Eddie Jones’ squad will once again feature a handful of players earning their first caps. Adam Radwan and Dan Kelly will start at wing and inside centre respectively. Kelly’s Leicester Tigers teammate Harry Wells will start at lock with Alex Dombrandt finally earning his first cap at eightman.
Dombrandt was one of the final cuts made by Jones prior to the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Dombrandt has spent the time since then dominating the Premiership with the Harlequins. Most recently Dombrandt scored a try in Harlequins 40-38 victory over Exeter to claim the 2021 Premiership title.
Eight of the players that earned their first cap last week against the USA return to the lineup. Ultimately, Jones is once again going with a young squad, taking the opportunity provided by the Lions tour. Despite that, big names such as Ellis Genge, Sam Underhill, and Henry Slade will be major factors in the game.
Kingsley Jones has made a few changes to his squad for this match. Josh Larsen and Tyler Rowland both suffered injuries against Wales and will miss the clash with England. Reegan O’Gorman will shift from blindside flanker to cover lock.
Corey Thomas will earn his first cap in the blindside spot O’Gorman occupied last week. Thomas has had a great season for the LA Giltinis and will look to make a big impact in his debut. With Rowland out, Liam Murray will earn his first test cap. He will be in the 18-jersey off the bench.
The other big change is that NOLA Gold centre Lockie Kratz will start alongside Ben LeSage in the centres. Quinn Ngawati will be on the bench, which now features a 5-3 split. To my surprise, Will Percillier also finds himself on the bench with Ross Braude once again starting at scrum half. Robbie Povey rounds out the reserve backs. To make room for Ngawati, Lucas Albornoz is no longer in the 23. Michael Smith and Don Carson retain their spots.
Keys to the Game
Canada will look to keep building on the positives from last week. Players like Lucas Rumball, Conor Keys, and Ben LeSage were immense in defense. Tackling was solid throughout the match and Canada handled themselves well in the breakdown. Carson and Smith made a big impact in the breakdown off the bench as well. Dombrandt and Underhill are monsters in this area of the game.
It will be fun to see Rumball, Thomas, Keys, and the rest of the squad go up against some of the Premiership’s best.
One thing Canada did really well against Wales was the fast start. Ngawati earned a penalty that set up a Peter Nelson shot at goal. Unfortunately, he missed, but Kainoa Lloyd would open the scoring with at try in the corner moments later. Another big start could go a long way to earning confidence throughout the match.
You can catch Canada battle England at Twickenham Saturday morning at 10am ET on DAZN.