Canada, US draw in 1st leg of Rugby World Cup qualifier
HAMILTON, Ontario (AP) Canada and the United States missed late kicks at the goalposts and finished 28-28 in the first leg of their 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
Canada fought back from 28-18 down, tying the score in the 78th minute with Shane O’Leary’s third penalty.
Eagles flyhalf AJ MacGinty then missed a dropped goal attempt, while Canada earned a penalty just inside America’s half, but O’Leary’s attempt was to the right.
The winner of the second leg in San Diego next Saturday will qualify for Pool C at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, joining England, France, Argentina, and Oceania 2.
The loser will play Uruguay for the Americas 2 slot in Pool D with Australia, Wales, Georgia, and Oceania 1.
Center DTH van der Merwe scored twice in the first quarter to become Canada’s all-time leading try-scorer with 25.
An O’Leary penalty pushed Canada ahead 15-7, but the Eagles charged back with tries to lock Nick Civetta, his second, and winger Mike Te’o from set-pieces to go into halftime 21-15 up.
Eagles hooker James Hilterbrand was sin-binned in the 45th minute for a high tackle but despite being a man down, they padded their lead to 28-18 with a Te’o interception of O’Leary, and he ran 95 meters for his second try of the match.
The Canadians rallied with a converted try to caps record-holder Aaron Carpenter.
Canada hasn’t lost a qualifier in eight years, but it also hasn’t beaten the U.S. in their last six matchups.