June International Tours

Staunton leads Ireland A home

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Ireland A kicked their Churchill Cup campaign off with a well fought 39-20 victory over a plucky Canadian side on Saturday in Exeter.

Michael Bradley’s side were made to work hard for their win after being given a second-half scare by the Canadians, who had chances to score more than their two tries.

James Pritchard could have put Canada ahead in the ninth minute but he pulled his penalty wide of the right post.

And two minutes later Pritchard’s day was to get even worse when his mistake led to Ireland’s opener.

The 27-year-old dwelled in possession deep in his own half before Ryan Caldwell went over following a patient approach from the resulting line-out.

But Ireland were unable to extend their advantage as Jeremy Staunton pulled the conversion wide.

However, they soon doubled the lead as Darren Cane stepped his way through Canada’s defence to score the second try in the 23rd minute.

Staunton’s kicking was to let him down though, with the Wasps fly-half again failing to convert.

The Irish were soon ruing their profligacy when Canada hit back with a sensational counter-attacking try in the 44th minute.

Craig Culpan celebrated his first start for his country, accelerating past the Irish back line to go over after being found wide on the left flank.

And soon Canada had turned the match on its head, taking a 20-17 lead.

Pritchard skilfully drew the last man to leave Dean van Camp with a simple run in – which was converted by Pritchard – to give Canada the lead for the first time.

The scores seemed to shock the Irish into action and it was not long before they had reclaimed the lead.

Another flowing move freed John Hearty to touch down – but only after video replays had proven Hearty had the ball under control.

Staunton, whose kicking was one of the few blemishes on an otherwise excellent display, missed for a fourth time – much to the disappointment of many in the Exeter crowd.

However, an opportunistic 60th-minute try from Jonny O’Connor soon gave them reason to cheer.

The flanker showed good hands to claim the Irish line-out deep inside Canadian territory and drove over the line to put his side back in the driving seat.

Man of the match Staunton put the game beyond doubt with a 69th-minute penalty and then with three minutes remaining, he shimmied his marker before easing over the line and scoring his third conversion to seal the victory.

The Scorers:

For Ireland A:

Tries: Caldwell, Cave, Earls, Hearty, O’Connor, Staunton
Cons: Staunton 3
Pen: Staunton

For Canada:

Tries: Culpan, Van Camp
Cons: Prichard 2
Pens: Prichard 2

The Teams:

Ireland A: 15 Johnny Sexton (St.Mary’s College/Leinster), 14 Paul McKenzie (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), 13 Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), 12 Seamus Mallon (Northampton), 11 Keith Earls (Thomond/Munster), 10 Jeremy Staunton (Wasps), 9 Chris Keane (Buccaneers/Connacht), 8 Roger Wilson (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), 7 Johnny O’Connor (Wasps), 6 Stephen Keogh (Shannon/Leinster), 5 Andrew Farley (Buccaneers/Connacht), 4 Ryan Caldwell (Dungannon/Ulster), 3 Michael Ross (Harlequins), 2 John Fogarty (Buccaneers/Connacht, captain), 1 Ray Hogan (Galwegians/Connacht).
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin (Shannon/Munster), 17 Declan Fitzpatrick (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), 18 David Gannon (Buccaneers/Connacht), 19 John Muldoon (Galwegians/Connacht), 20 Kieran Campbell (Dungannon/Ulster), 21 John Hearty (Galwegians/Connacht), 22 Fergus McFadden (UCD/Leinster).

Canada: 15 Mike Pyke (Montauban), 14 James Pritchard (Bedford), 13 Craig Culpan (Meraloma), 12 David Spicer (University of Victoria), 11 Dean van Camp (Aurora Barbarians), 10 Ryan Smith (Montauban), 9 Morgan Williams (Albi), 8 Stan McKeen (Corni

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