Canada go in Pool B with New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia
Canada qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019
Canada are the 20th and final team to enter Rugby World Cup 2019 after seeing off Hong Kong 27-10 in the final qualifier event, in Marseille.
The Canadians have been at every single World Cup since the inaugural event in 1987 and will go into Pool B with New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia in Japan next year.
They only needed a losing bonus point against Hong Kong to go through. Having smashed Kenya 65-19 in round one and then bested Germany 29-10 in their second match of the round robin event, they could have simply kept in touch with Hong Kong.
But it was the collective experience of physical Test rugby that told here. During a torrential downpour, Canada soaked up pressure and struck when opportunities presented themselves. No one exemplified this more than lethal Glasgow Warriors wing DTH van der Merwe, who scored a brace – the first being from a charge-down he made and the second after dancing out of a tackle on the left touchline.
Hong Kong were physical throughout, but as the game wore on they wilted in the set-piece and were penned in near the halfway-line as Canada counter-punched.
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The Asian outfit were the aggressors in the early exchanges though, whipping into contact as they chased the hefty, four-try win they needed to leapfrog Canada and make the World Cup. Cynical but effective, the Canadians were happy to give away penalties.
Yet Hong Kong could not capitalise as the hammered towards the try-line and in a quick foray the other way, veteran hooker Ray Barkwill used all of his wiliness to burrow over from close range and score the game’s first.
Hong Kong replied with an unnecessary penalty kick. Despite fly-half Matt Rosslea not wanting to go for posts, as soon as the tee came onto the pitch he was bound by the laws to take the three-pointer. To make matters worse, minutes later the Hong Kong ten was charged down by van der Merwe, who scored his 36th try for Canada.
Hong Kong piled on the pressure as they searched for a try of their own, but after opposition ten Gordon McRorie took a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on in his own 22, Hong Kong could not breach the line.
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The menacing figure of Tyler Ardron swallowed up the ball near his own line in the last significant act of the first half, and early in the second half, when scrum-half Liam Slatem burst the game wide open with a fine run, Canada simply ripped the ball away the next phase.
Hong Kong did eventually get their try as giant wing Conor Hartley slammed over in the corner to make it 10-14, but the Canadians contented themselves with chipping away with two McRorie penalties.
The result was already assured when van der Merwe got his second try, but there was still a sense of relief as referee Romain Poite blew the final whistle, allowing the Canadians to finally celebrate making yet another World Cup.
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