Preview: Canada v USA

Date published: August 21 2015

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Canada will be looking for revenge against USA after their Pacific Nations Cup loss when the two teams meet in a World Cup warm-up on Saturday.

The game will take place at Twin Elm Rugby Park in Ottawa, with the Canadians currently on a six-game losing run since beating Namibia in 2014.

While those defeats have all been tight affairs, getting an elusive win on the board will be priceless and who better than against their closest rival.

As mentioned, the Eagles won the last time these two clashed as a late drop-goal from fly-half AJ MacGinty secured a 15-13 victory in Vancouver. But on the other side of the country, Canada will hope their luck turns around as with just three games until the World Cup they need this win.

Canada recently named a preliminary Rugby World Cup squad of 35 players which will be reduced by four at the end of the month so this is their last opportunity to impress head coach Kieran Crowley, with their next games against Georgia and Fiji coming on September 2 and 5 respectively.

Crowley hopes those involved on Saturday grasp their big chance.

"There are a couple of guys who performed pretty well during the Pacific Nations Cup who deserve the opportunity again and a couple of guys who are carrying knocks who are better served to have the week off," he said ahead of the home international.

"It is a reward for performance. Some of the boys have played well who might not have considered themselves to be in this position at this time so they deserve another opportunity."

Included in the side is wing Taylor Paris, who was an integral part of Agen's promotion to the Top 14 this past season. Paris missed the entire Pacific Nations Cup due to injury but the 22-year-old has regained his fitness to be included in this weekend's line-up, which is a major boost.

"He's been out for a while but had an outstanding season over in France," Crowley said about the electric wide man.

"He's probably got a little more of a skip than some of the other players so he brings a different sort of wing game. He's obviously very keen to have a good one as we have a lot of competition out on those wide areas and on the backline. He has been training well and recovered so we are expecting him to do well."

Meanwhile, Eagles coach Mike Tolkin has freshened up his centres as Thretton Palamo and Seamus Kelly come in for Andrew Suniula and Folau Niua.

"We have good talent in the centres and we want to continue to rotate them," he said.

"They each bring positive characteristics in their play, and slightly different skillsets. We expect a balanced centre pairing of solid defence, playmaking skills and a strong running game from them."

The USA will hope that leads to Danny Barrett, Chris Wyles and Blaine Scully enjoying front-foot ball, thus increasing their chances of victory against a side they have enjoyed recent bragging rights against. Then it will be over to Chicago for a final pre-RWC hit-out against Australia.

Players to watch:

For Canada: It is a big game for Nathan Hirayama as he steps into the ten shirt. Liam Underwood impressed last time out but isn't involved on Saturday, with the Sevens playmaker being put under the microscope. The hard-running Nick Blevins will be a welcome outlet.

For USA: He broke Canadian hearts last time these two sides met and if AJ MacGinty can replicate that steady performance, the USA have a great chance of making it three wins in a row against their rivals. As always, Chris Wyles and Blaine Scully will threaten.

Head-to-head: We look at the number eights here as captain Aaron Carpenter shifts from hooker to the back-row where he will face off against the powerful Danny Barrett. John Moonlight and Andrew Durutalo swap their Sevens rivalry to the Fifteens game.

Team news: Aaron Carpenter will captain Canada from number eight in Tyler Ardron's absence. In addition to Carpenter, Hubert Buydens, John Moonlight and Harry Jones are the only other players to keep their spot in the line-up after that 15-13 loss to the USA. Buydens will be joined by Ray Barkwill and Doug Wooldridge in the front-row while Tyler Hotson and Jon Phelan start at lock. Nanyak Dala joins Moonlight and Carpenter in the back-row. Scrum-half Gordon McRorie is back from injury while Nathan Hirayama gets his second start of the year at fly-half. Nick Blevins is at centre with Conor Trainor. Phil Mackenzie and the returning Taylor Paris will man the wings with Harry Jones at full-back.

Cameron Dolan comes in for Hayden Smith in the second-row alongside Greg Petersen, Al McFarland replaces Scott Lavalla on the blindside, Brett Thompson is in for Zack Test on the left wing while Thretton Palamo and Seamus Kelly are the preferred centre combination for the USA in Ottawa.

Previous results:

2015: USA won 15-13 in Vancouver
2014: USA won 28-25 in Sacramento
2013: Canada won 13-11 in Toronto
2013: Canada won 27-9 in Charleston
2013: Canada won 16-9 in Edmonton

Prediction: On paper the visitors should shade this one. USA by 5 points!

The teams:

Canada: 15 Harry Jones, 14 Phil Mackenzie, 13 Conor Trainor, 12 Nick Blevins, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Nathan Hirayama, 9 Gordon McRorie, 8 Aaron Carpenter (c), 7 John Moonlight, 6 Nanyak Dala, 5 Jon Phelan, 4 Tyler Hotson, 3 Doug Wooldridge, 2 Ray Barkwill, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Benoit Piffero, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Andrew Tiedemann, 19 Evan Olmstead, 20 Kyle Gilmour, 21 Phil Mack, 22 Ciaran Hearn, 23 Matt Evans.

USA: 15 Chris Wyles (c), 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Thretton Palamo, 11 Brett Thompson, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Danny Barrett, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Al McFarland, 5 Greg Peterson, 4 Cameron Dolan, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Zach Fenoglio, 1 Eric Fry.
Replacements: 16 Phil Thiel, 17 Olive Kilifi, 18 Chris Baumann, 19 Louis Stanfill, 20 Matt Trouville, 21 John Quill, 22 Niku Kruger, 23 Andrew Suniula.

Date: Saturday, August 22
Venue: Twin Elm Rugby Park in Ottawa
Kick-off: 16:00 local (20:00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)

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