18-year-old Taylor Paris notched two of his team's eight tries for Canada to claim a 60-22 win over Spain in the first-ever test between the two nations.
Playing in front of 8,000 at University of Madrid's Complutense University Stadium on an overcast Saturday afternoon in Madrid, the Canadian men utilized a strong forward presence with a backline that was eager to run to notch a handy victory over the Lions.
For his part in the historic test, Paris said his nerves settled as soon as he took the field and that the leadership and experience within the team allowed him to cross the line for his first test try with ease.
"It was a good win for sure," Paris said. "The tries were walk ins because it was a team effort. I was nervous, but the leaders in the team, like Pat Riordan and Adam Kleeburger, got us ready for the game."
Paris' first try was the result of a break by DTH Van der Merwe in the first ten minutes of the game. Van der Merwe broke into space and offloaded to James Pritchard, who drew the last defender before sending Paris streaming down the wing for a short run to the in goal.
"My first try, I touched the ball down, high-fived a few of the guys and got back into the game," he said.
Bolstered by the return of their professionals, Canada had a strong start to the test, scoring within the first two minutes, despite a late change in the starting line up due to injury concerns over Ander Monro.
Monro was removed from the starting line up and winger Ciaran Hearn was moved to fly half. Justin Mensah-Coker was moved from the bench to starting wing and Nick Blevins was brought onto the bench.
Forward coach Neil Barnes said it was a testament to the composure of the team that they were able to stay focussed despite the last-minute changes.
"We had a bit of a glitch just before kick off with Ander Monro injured," Barnes said. "Credit to the guys, they pulled together and put a lot of points on.
"We're trying to get some accuracy in our plays and sometimes the score is irrelevant, but we're very happy with the amount of points we scored."
Both teams brought a very physical approach to the game, which wasn't without its moments of confrontation, but Barnes was impressed with the discipline shown.
"It was a very physical game and everything on the edges of the ruck was a battle," he said. "But when we sent it out wide, the backs made good yards."
Riordan was in fine form, leading Canada by example, opening the scoring two minutes into the game on a pick-and-go, to tally his third try in two tests.
Canada took a 31-12 lead at half time following tries by Riordan, Paris, Aaron Carpenter and Chauncey O'Toole. Pritchard was sure with the boot, nailing all four conversions and one penalty goal in the first half.
Canadian prop Jason Marshall received a yellow card late in the first half for collapsing a maul, but Barnes said the team had prepared for the possibility of shorthanded play.
"The yellow card was certainly disruptive, but we had it covered defensively and we managed to keep them out during that period," he said.
All 12 of the Lions' first-half points were courtesy of the boot of scrum half Santiago Fernandez.
Canada made two changes at half time, giving Jon Phelan his second test cap as a substitute for Josh Jackson in the second row and Kevin Tkachuk for Dan Pletch in the front row.
Three minutes into the second half, Canada was back on the scoreboard with a try for Van der Merwe. O'Toole and Paris notched their second tries, while Sean Michael Stephen rounded out the scoring. Pritchard successfully kicked three from four conversions in the second half, plus one penalty goal.
The Lions proved they were down, but not out, scoring tries in the 47th, by Anthony Pradalie, and Pierre Belzunce in the 82nd minute.
Barnes and the rest of the coaching staff were happy with the result, but would have liked to keep the Lions try-less.
"There's definitely excitement about playing any test match and when you're playing a country for the first time," Barnes said. "We're excited about the win, but there's obviously some disappointment with the late tries, so that's something we need to fix."
Canada made five changes in the second half.
Carpenter was rewarded for his try with a rest when Michael-Stephen replaced him at the 51-minute mark.
Eight minutes later, Jamie Mackenzie earned his second cap as a replacement for Sean White at scrum half. Then in the 69th minute, Canada made its final three substitutions.
Blevins came on for Van der Merwe in the centres, Tom Dolezel replaced his captain at hooker and Jebb Sinclair gave double-try scorer O'Toole a rest on the flank.
Tries: Pradalie, Belzunce
Pens: Fernandez 4
Tries: Riordan, Paris 2, Carpenter, O'Toole 2, Van der Merwe, Michael-Stephen
Cons: Pritchard 7
Pens: Pritchard 2
Spain: 15 Ignacio Gutiérrez Muller, 14 Pierre Belzunce, 13 Martín Heredia, 12 Bruno Angulo, 11 Baptiste Sanchez, 10 Mathieu Gratton, 9 Santiago Fernández, 8 Federico Negrillo, 7 Gautier Gibouin, 6 Martín Aceńa (c), 5 Damien Elgoyhen, 4 Jesús Recuerda, 3 Jesús Moreno, 2 Mathieu Cidré, 1 Anthony Pradalie.
Replacements: 16 Sylvain González, 17 Rodrigo Martínez, 18 Mattin Auzqui, 19 David Barrera, 20 Matthew Cook, 21 Sebastien Rouet, 22 Diego Alvarez.
Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Taylor Paris, 13 DTH van der Merwe, 12 Phillip Mackenzie, 11 Ciaran Hearn, 10 Ander Monro, 9 Sean White, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 Adam Kleeberger, 6 Chauncey O'Toole, 5 Tyler Hotson, 4 Josh Jackson, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Pat Riordan (c), 1 Dan Pletch.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dolezel, 17 Kevin Tkachuk, 18 Jon Phelan, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Sean Michael Stephen, 21 Jamie Mackenzie, 22 Justin Mensah-Coker.
Referee: Frank Himmer (Germany)