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Queen's rugby player Liam Underwood to dress for Canada Saturday against Tonga
Posted: June 7th, 2013 @ 1:25am
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Queen's University varsity rugby player Liam Underwood will be in the lineup Saturday when Canada hosts Tonga in its third game of the Pacific Nations Cup tournament at Richardson Stadium.
Underwood impressed observers in his first international start Wednesday in Ottawa, a 20-18 win over Fiji, Canada's first win over the island nation since 1995.
"He had a real good game," said Kingston's John Phelan, a former national team captain and a member of the local organizing committee for Saturday's game.
"For his first start as a Canadian player, especially against the Fijians, who are very big men, he played very well."
In respect of the quick turnaround between games, Canadian coach Kieran Crowley has changed 10 members of his starting 15 from the Wednesday game, including Underwood, who will dress as a reserve.
Underwood came off the bench in Canada's first game of the five-team tournament in Edmonton last week and in his national team debut he made several strong tackles in a 16-9 win over the U.S.
Phelan said the Canadians, ranked 14th in the world, played well against Fiji, the globe's 13th ranked team.
"It was just a tremendous match. Canada played really well," Phelan said. "The Fijians are big and they like to play the power game, come right at you, but Canada tackled extremely well and frustrated Fiji. Canada also scored some good tries."
Phelan said fans Saturday can expect the same kind of game from Tonga, the world's 11th-ranked team.
"They're very similar," Phelan said. "They're big and they're powerful and they're going to come straight at you.
"They're going to test your resolve to tackle."
Canada is undefeated after two games of the tournament, which will end for the Canadians June 19 against Japan at Nagoya, Japan. Saturday's match with Tonga will be the first meeting between the teams since the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, where Canada prevailed 25-20.
Perhaps deterred by last month's announcement that the upper tier of stands at Richardson Stadium has been condemned as structurally unsafe, the advance sale for Saturday's game has stagnated. After the Canadians drew more than 6,000 fans for an exhibition last year against the U.S., only about 3,000 tickets have been sold for the Tonga game so far.
That leaves about 1,000 tickets remaining to be sold, Phelan said.
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