Rugby Union: Canadians left high and dry

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The Independent Online
Pontypool. .45

Ontario. . .16

THERE is an unlikely new look at Pontypool this season - though John Perkins does look the part as chairman. With his cheery 'hello' and natty attire, he may be alarmed to know that he has lost all trace of the old intimidator.

This is the John Perkins who banged heads in the Pontypool and Wales second row, last season's coach but now installed at the club's helm with a Wales forward of even older and longer vintage, Bobby Windsor, as his vice-chairman.

All this respectability at Pontypool of all places could be dangerous. If anything, there are not enough bad boys but too many callow youths. The backbone of the pack has been filleted by Chris Huish's retirement and Dean Oswald's return to New Zealand and already this season there have been Heineken League trouncings by Llanelli and Neath.

After conceding 81 points in those matches, Pooler were seeking therapy last night and eventually it was administered. The Canadians began promisingly with three penalties by John O'Meara, but Pontypool were ahead by half-time after two Shaun Hanson penalties and Vince Davies's first try. Thereafter they moved into the distance with six more tries in the second half.

As it happened, O'Meara had missed nearly everything in

Ontario's first tour match, which they lost 29-17 to Glamorgan Wanderers (and had a lock, Brian Cooke, sent off). 'We want to play the best,' Richard Black, the manager, said. Well, Pontypool are not quite that: seventh in the First Division last season, destined to struggle this season and, valley economics being what they are, at a critical financial disadvantage against the big coastal clubs.

Canadian rugby men know the feeling. The cost of simply getting together is prohibitive. Moreover, the game has no public profile outside British Columbia, so much so that although Ontario are the next- best province hardly anyone back home knows of the existence even of World Cup heroes such as Al Charron and Karl Svoboda.

Last night they tried to move the ball, but without making great progress other than when John Hutchinson had the ball and later when they spread it wide for Winston Lyttleton to score their only try. But Pontypool's familiar method - get down there and then try to score - was more efficacious, their second-half tries for a while following each other in quick succession.

Pontypool: Tries Davies 2, Jackson, Young, Dyke, Goodey, White; Conversions Hanson, White; Penalties Hanson 2. Ontario: Try Lyttleton; Conversion O'Meara; Penalties O'Meara 3.

Pontypool: S Hanson; C Lewis, R Lewis, A Ward, S White; R Dyke, P Young; D Thomas, M Jones, L Mustoe, N Jones, K Gale, S Jackson, R Goodey (capt), V Davies.

ONTARIO: A Hamilton (Burlington); C Smith (Balmy Beach), R Robinson (Ajax Wanderers), S Switzer (York), W Lyttleton (Balmy Beach); J O'Meara (Oakville Crusaders), C Wilson (Balmy Beach); S Fitzgerald (Oakville Crusaders), K Svoboda (Ajax Wanderers, capt), D Joy (Brampton), T Gerberg (York), J Purchase (Ottowa Irish), J Tomlinson (Balmy Beach), A Charron (Ottowa Irish), J Hutchinson (York).

Referee: P Bolland (Newport).