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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 October, 2003, 10:28 GMT
Canada survive Tonga assault
Al Charron was knocked senseless in this tackle from Tonga's Pierre Hola
Canada 24
Tries: Fauth, Abrams
Cons: Pritchard
Pens: Ross (4)
Tonga 7
Tries: Kivalu
Cons: Hola

Canada 24-7 Tonga

Canada won the battle of the Pool D minnows on Wednesday and condemned Tonga to finish bottom of the table in the process.

In a hard-fought clash, the Canucks finished the stronger of the sides, despite losing inspirational captain Al Charron to a ferocious tackle.

Charron, playing in his 76th and final international, was stretchered off with blood pouring from his mouth after being hit heavily by Pierre Hola in the second half.

He was later cleared of serious injury and Canada wrapped up the win with tries from Sean Fauth and Aaron Abrams.

Tonga threatened out wide through the pace of replacement Sukanaivalu Hufanga, but they never looked likely to break down an impressive Canadian defence.

In a bruising encounter, the North Americans also lost Nik Witkowski in the first half when burly Tongan wing Pila Fifita trod on the centre's face after bursting through a tackle.

Canada had the advantage of a strong breeze behind them in the first half and they came out of the blocks quickest, taking the lead through a Bob Ross penalty after five minutes.

Al Charron was in a lot of pain and I feel bad for the guy
Canada wing Winston Stanley

It was quickly followed by the game's opening - and Tonga's only - try.

Canada could not cope with a surging drive from the Pacific Islanders and number eight Benhur Kivalu was on hand to reach over for the score.

Hola, who had earlier missed a simple penalty, added the conversion and Tonga should have scored a second try after a fine break from Tongan hooker Ephram Taukafa, but Nisifolo Naufahu managed to drop the ball with a four-man overlap available.

Canada made the most of their let-off and nudged back into the lead through two Ross penalties, despite Tonga continuing to have the upper hand territorially.

After the break, Canada again started the stronger and extended their lead with a fine try.

Quick ball was worked down the line and Sean Fauth crossed in the corner. Ross, who had just missed a very kickable penalty, also failed with the conversion from the touchline.

I can't complain about the way the boys performed
Tonga captain Inoke Afeaki

Tonga tried to respond but they created few clear chances.

Hufanga looked threatening when he came on but most of his breaks were from deep and Canada were able to snuff out the danger.

The injury to Charron, playing his last World Cup match, cast a shadow over the last 10 minutes, but Canada maintained their discipline.

A Ross penalty edged them further ahead before Abrams wrapped up victory with a converted try as the Canadians claimed a hard-earned victory.

Canada: Q Fyffe; S Fauth, N Witkowski, M di Girolamo, W Stanley; B Ross, M Williams; R Snow, M Lawson, G Cooke, A Charron (capt), M James, J Cudmore, A van Staveren, J Jackson.
Replacements: A Abrams, K Tkachuk, C Yukes, J Reid, E Fairhurst, R Smith, J Pritchard.

Tonga: G Leger; P Fifita, J Ngauamo, J Payne, S Fonua; P Hola, S Martens; T Lea'aetoa, E Taukafa, H Lavaka, M Ngauamo, I Afaeki (capt), N Naufahu, J Tu'amoheloa, B Kivalu.
Replacements: V Ma'asi, K Tonga, U Latu, I Fenukitau, D Palu, S Hufanga, V Vaki.

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