Rugby Union: Wales the avengers

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The Independent Online
Canada. . .15

Wales. . . 33

EVER since November, when the Canadians humiliated Wales with their 26-24 victory in Cardiff, the Welsh players have been living for the moment they could gain revenge. This sweet moment here could not have come soon enough for them and when they were presented with the opportunity they took it with style.

Seven months ago the 1991 World Cup quarter-finalists had made the Welsh look like novices. Now the boot was on the other foot. It was payback time with a vengeance.

The Canadians, given first use of a strong wind at Fletcher Fields, were not slow in coming forward and Gareth Rees ensured they got off to a good start with three penalties in the opening quarter. While one outside half was having a good day with the boot another, Wales's Neil Jenkins, was inexplicably profligate from point-blank range.

It got so bad that the Welsh skipper Ieuan Evans opted for a scrum instead of a kick when Wales were awarded a penalty close to the home line. It proved to be the wisest of choices because from that scrum the centre Mike Hall raced to the blindside to take a pass from No. 8 Scott Quinnell and secure the first of his side's three tries.

The Welsh counter to the physical approach of the Canadians was to spread the ball wide and expose them. What that try did was completely bemuse them. They were further baffled when Mike Rayer emerged on the overlap after a fine backline passing move and his inside return to Hall allowed the Cardiff captain to bag his second try.

By this time Jenkins had overcome his early jitters and his second successful conversion put Wales ahead for the first time four minutes before the interval. Rees, the scorer of 16 points at the Arms Park and all 18 in last weekend's impressive Canadian win over the French, was not finished, though, and he notched his fifth penalty to snatch the lead again just before the interval. But with the last kick of the half Jenkins ensured the tourists changed ends with their noses in front when he slotted home his first penalty. After that there was no looking back.

The second half became a tale of increasing Welsh dominance at the scrum and when Evans crossed for his record-equalling 20th international try two minutes into the second half the Canadians crumbled. Jenkins once again converted and added three more penalties for a match tally of 18 points as Wales enjoyed a morale-boosting win at the start of their four-Test programme this month.

Canada: Penalties: G Rees 5. Wales: Tries: M Hall 2, I Evans. Conversions: N Jenkins 3. Penalties: Jenkins 4.

CANADA: S Stewart (UBC Old Boys); R Toews (Meralomas), S Gray (Kats), I Stuart (Vancouver Rowing Club, captain), D Lougheed (Toronto Welsh); G Rees (Castaways/Oxford Univ), J Graf (UBC Old Boys); E Evans (UBC Old Boys), K Svoboda (Ajax Wanderers), D Jackart (UBC Old Boys), M James (Burnaby), A Charron (Ottawa Irish), I Gordon (James Bay), C MacKenzie (UBC Old Boys), G MacKinnon (Ex Britania Lions). Replacements: G Ennis (Kats/Suntory) for MacKenzie, 54.

WALES: M Rayer (Cardiff); I Evans (Llanelli, captain), M Hall (Cardiff), N Davies (Llanelli), W Proctor (Llanelli); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Moon (Llanelli); R Evans (Llanelli), G Jenkins (Swansea), J Davies (Neath), P Davies (Llanelli), G Llewellyn (Neath), H Taylor (Cardiff), S Quinnell (Llanelli), R Collins (Pontypridd). Replacements: A Clement (Swansea) for I Evans, 57.

Referee: I Rodgers (South Africa).

Argentina beat Scotland 19-17 in the second Test in Buenos Aires, helped by a missed penalty by the tourists' full-back Michael Dods in injury time.