Canada is into the Churchill Cup Final for the second year running after defeating Russia 34-18 in Esher, England on Wednesday evening. The result guarantees Canada top spot of their group after defeating Italy A on Saturday and will likely face the England Saxons in the Final. The Russian Bears will face either the USA or Tonga on the finals day depending on the result of England Saxons vs Tonga. Should Russia take on the UAS it will be a preview of their clash coming up in September in New Zealand 2011 and a great opportunity to head into the tournament with an advantage.
Chasing a three-point deficit in their final Churchill Cup pool game at Esher RFC on Wednesday, Canada played patient, tough rugby in the second half to tally 19 unanswered points and emerge 34-18 victors to earn a berth in the tournament final. In only the second ever international match betwwen the worlds two largest countries, the North Americans started strongly but had to come from behind after Russia took an 18-15 halftime lead. Canadian winger Justin Mensah-Coker scored the first points of the match with a 12th minute try which fullback James Pritchard converted. Russia hit back almost immediately with a penalty goal to flyhalf Yuri Kushnarev which Pritchard cancelled out in the 17th minute with a penalty of his own to make it 10-3. Russia the made it 10-10 in the 20th minute with a try to fullback Igor Klyuchnikov. Five minutes latter the bears were leading thanks to winger Vaily Artemyev scoring Russias second. The conversion missed but Russia were 15-10 ahead and looking strong. Canadian centre Conor Trainor hit back in the 30th minute with Canada´s second try but Pritchard missed the conversion to make it 15-15. Russia, however, went into the interval ahead as Kushnarev slotted a penalty in the 40th minute.
Canada started very strongly after the break, mounting together phases in Russia´s half. Russia´s defense roved solid but in the 61st minute Canada finally breached the line as flyhalf Andre Monro finished off a try created by inside centre Mike Scoltz who had linked with winger Matt Evans, Pritchard and replacement Phil Mackenzie. Canada were ahead 22-18 following Pritchard´s successful conversion attempt. With Russia losing patience, Canada took control of the match to score two further tries. Man of the match, for the second game running, Chauncey O´Toole went over for an intercept try in the 70th minute as he dived over in similar fashion to English international winger, Chris Ashton. While Evans scored with two minutes remaining on the clock. Pritchard was on target to give Canada a 34-18 win.