Wales 61 Canada 26: Wales lose Henson but run up a record

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The Independent Online

Wales ran riot with a scintillating display but Gareth Jenkins knows life is about to get a lot harder with New Zealand looming large on the horizon. Jenkins named as near to a full-strength side as possible in preparation for the All Blacks next Saturday and his players delivered an emphatic response despite the loss of Gavin Henson to a toe infection.

The Dragons ran in nine tries, eight of which were converted by the increasingly assured James Hook, in a record score against the Canadians. Wales, still unbeaten during this autumn series, are at last showing signs of returning to the form that brought them the Grand Slam last year. However the victory was tainted by the late withdrawal of Henson and, having enjoyed an embarrassment of riches for the first three games of the series, Jenkins now has concerns over two key players with Stephen Jones also a doubt to face New Zealand.

Jenkins said: "Selection for the All Blacks is a big decision for everyone in Wales and I want to be able to make up my mind by Monday so both Gavin and Stephen must prove they are available by then."

Henson's place was filled last night by Sonny Parker, and it was a cruel slice of bad luck. Henson was already under pressure to produce a performance under the challenge of Hook and his mood will hardly have been lightened as the youngster revelled in his first appearance in a No 10 jersey.

Wales shook off a shaky start to take total control of this game, scoring four tries in the first half with Hook involved in most of the positive play.

Hook pulled the strings of a back-line bristling with talent and the 21-year-old took less than six minutes to unlock the Canadian defence. Parker and Ryan Jones both hammered away at the line but all it took was the deftest of kicks through for the captain Gareth Thomas to race on to for his 37th Test try.

Shane Williams danced through a string of defenders to score the 28th try of his Wales career and then ignited a 70-metre attack that ended with the hooker Matthew Rees crossing in the corner. Derek Daypuck gave Canada a drop goal but the sheer power of the Wales scrum forced a penalty try before the break.

The home side maintained their momentum in the second half. Jonathan Thomas crossed twice in the space of four minutes after sending Peel scorching over from a line-out.

Canada salvaged respectability through Dan Pletch and Mike Pyke but Ceri Sweeney and Tom Shanklin rounded off a stunning night for Wales.

"We scored nine tries in a Test match and that has to be an achievement, " the captain Thomas said. "We are always going to be critical of ourselves but it's a measure of how far this team has come that we are not cracking open the Champagne bottles after scoring nine tries."

Wales: Tries G Thomas, S Williams, M Rees; Penalty, D Peel, J Thomas 2, C Sweeney, T Shanklin; Conversions J Hook 8. Canada: Tries D Pletch, M Pyke; Conversions J Prichard 2; Penalties J Prichard 3; Drop goal D Daypuck.

Wales: G Thomas (capt); M Jones, T Shanklin, S Parker (C Sweney, 58), S Williams; J Hook, D Peel (M Phillips, 58); G Jenkins (D Jones, 52), M Rees (R Thomas, 52), A Jones (G Jenkins, 64), I Gough, I Evans (R Sidoli, 64), J Thomas, R Jones, M Williams (AW Jones, 69).

Canada: E Fairhurst; M Pyke, R Smith, D Spicer, J Prichard; D Daypuck, M Williams (capt, J Mensah-Cocker, 66); K Tkachuk (D Pletch, 55), M Lawson, F Gainer (M Pletch, 42), L Tait (S Ault, 26-32), M Burak, M Webb, S-M Stephen (S Ault, 55), S McKeen.

Referee: T Spreadbury (Bristol).