September 26, 2019 / 12:05 PM / 21 days ago

Rugby-Canada coach rues lost opportunities against Italy

    By Greg Stutchbury
    FUKUOKA, Japan, Sept 26 (Reuters) - A dropped ball by
replacement flanker Matt Heaton with the line gaping did not
cost Canada victory against Italy in their Rugby World Cup Pool
B match on Thursday but it could have changed the game's
momentum, coach Kingsley Jones said.
    Heaton only had to catch the ball and flop over the line
after his captain Tyler Ardron had burst clear to set up what
should have been their opening try and reduce the score to 17-7
after the Italians had started strongly.
    Instead the Italians reached halftime 17-0 up at Fukuoka
Hakatanomori Stadium and kicked on to run out 48-7 winners,
going top of a pool that includes heavyweights New Zealand and
South Africa. 
    "I thought we just didn't finish our opportunities," Jones
told reporters. "If we had taken a gift under the posts then
that changes the shape of the game, not just the scoreboard, but
unfortunately we didn't take those chances."
    Heaton's gaffe was not the only mistake made by the North
Americans in a 20-minute first-half spell, missing two other
clear-cut chances to score as DTH van der Merwe created space
down the left wing, and when the Canadians wasted a three-on-one
chance the momentum swung back to the Italians who duly
    A positive Jones, however, stressed his side had
occasionally ripped the Six Nations side apart and they could
take confidence from that going into their matches against the
All Blacks and Springboks.
    "Full credit to the players for creating those
opportunities, because we have something to build on there,"
Jones said. "We left a lot of points out there and I think the
scoreboard flattered Italy a little bit."
    Ardron added that it had been "pretty frustrating" to create
so many opportunities against a tier one nation and not finish
them off.
    "It is something we have battled with for years and years
and we're not happy with it," Ardron said. "It's something that
we have to review and work on. 
    "I think we're getting better. We're chasing it and hoping
to get there, but if we can get guys playing rugby regularly
then they'll finish things like that off. 
    "It's a game of 1% at this level."

 (Editing by Tony Lawrence)
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