Canada Outmuscles Lebanon
Canada has improved its 2012 summer international rugby league record to 2-0 by doubling up Lebanon 36-18 on a wet Saturday night in Toronto.
The home side made an immediate impact and never looked back after a Lebanese player was knocked unconscious trying to make a tackle on his own five meter line in the opening minutes.
That hit set the tempo for the opening exchanges and there was no score through the first 10 minutes despite some probing runs by Canada’s Enoch Wamalwa, Robin Legault and Tony Felix.
The game started a little late due to rain that drifted into the Toronto area, although it cleared to allow for a delayed kickoff.
The Wolverines maintained the early pressure and a crashing run by Chris Chalmers would have resulted in points, but for a knock-on that put paid to the opening score of the game. However, it wasn’t long after that Felix scored the first try of the match when he crossed out wide having gathered in a long cross-field pass to open Canada’s account in the 18th minute.
Just minutes later, the Cedars turned over possession from a spilled ball in a tackle and Stu McReynolds pounced for the Canadians’ second score. He converted his own try for 10-0 lead.
The rout was on from there as a mere two minutes later, Geoff Bylund, playing his first game of 2012, took the ball up and dotted down under the posts for the easiest of conversions for McReynolds and a 16-0 lead to Canada.
The home team continued to dominate territory and possession much to the delight of the 2000-strong crowd at Lamport Stadium. Graham Dobbs, who’s been on loan to Hull FC in the English Super League, showed that his time with the club has been well spent by playing strongly at hooker.
Keegan Watcham-Roy also had a good game and thought he had scored his first try for Canada, but the referee ruled he was held up in the in-goal.
Canada kept the scoreboard ticking over when Felix picked off an errant Lebanese pass on his five meter line and sprinted the length of the field to score in the 37th minute. McReynolds missed on the conversion attempt, but Canada’s lead was extended to 20-0.
The halftime break couldn’t come soon enough for the visitors, who were starting to show signs of fatigue by putting in sloppy, high tackles that were missing their mark enabling Canadian ball-runners Justin Redguard and John Felix to make some hard yards up the middle.
Lebanon opened the second half with renewed energy and after earning a penalty from a bustling drive they put the ball into touch. The Cedars looked to have scored their first try of the match from the resultant tap and run, but knocked-on in the try zone.
The Canadians then resumed the attack and a deep kick by Matt Wyles was coughed up by a Lebanese player. Tony Felix scooped up the loose ball and dished to Wyles who scored. Another McReynolds conversion saw the score blow out to 26-0.
The rain began falling again and Lebanon took a cue from it by finally scoring a try. The conversion was good for a 26-6 scoreline.
That success seemed to lift the Cedars and they made the Wolverines pay for a high shot. Lebanon got a penalty as a result and quickly touched down in the corner and another long-range conversion found its mark to see the Canadian lead clipped to 26-12.
Sensing that the opposition had started to lift, Canada increased its tempo and Legault picked up a loose ball that had been jolted free in a play and dashed 70 meters to the line to score out wide. McReynolds was on target with the extras and the Wolverines pushed their lead to 32-12.
At that point, tempers began to fray and Canada’s Cam Grace was involved in a minor dust-up with a Lebanese player that momentarily stopped play.
Lebanon took possession of the ball from the resultant ruling and a nifty chip kick into the in-goal saw two Canadian defenders mishandle it enabling a third Lebanon try. The conversion was good for a 32-18 scoreline as time ticked away.
As the rain continued to fall, the ball got slippery and both teams started to commit multiple ball handling errors.
Then, as time was about to expire, Redguard came out of nowhere and went on a 70-meter run to score a sprawling try under the posts. Despite taking his shot from right in front, McReynolds misjudged the degree of difficulty with the slippery ball and miscued on the conversion as the referee blew time on the game and a 36-18 Canadian victory.
The result followed Canada’s 18-12 win against Jamaica in July.
Next up for the Wolverines is the annual two-game set with the USA Tomahawks in the Colonial Cup series. Those home and home matches are scheduled for September.