Scotland secured their second summer Test win in North America today with a 19-17 win over Canada at the BMO Field in Toronto.
A first international try for Edinburgh Rugby lock Grant Gilchrist and the boot of captain Greig Laidlaw was enough to put the visitors in front at the interval, despite a series of handling errors disrupting their efforts to establish an attacking rhythm.
The Scots opted for a more direct approach in the second-half and, despite losing a number of key players to injury, earned the opportunities for Laidlaw to maintain the side’s advantage in the second-half.
Laidlaw got his men of the mark with only two minutes of the match played after the host’s knocked on the kick-off, on their 22 and were penalised at the resulting scrum (3-0).
Unfazed, Canada mounted their own fierce attack from the restart, launching the ball deep, snatching a loose ball and barging their way to the five-metre line, where Scotland knocked on.
Moments later the home crowd were on their feet celebrating what they thought was the game’s first try, only for the TMO to adjudge a dropped ball in midfield to have strayed forward before it was recollected en route to the try-line.
The visitors capitalised on the let-off at scrum time with another big push from the pack, which earned a penalty used to clear Scottish lines.
Handling errors continued to mar the progress of the Scots, who mixed flash with frustration on consecutive phases, stand-off Finn Russell failing to slot his attempted grubber through the on-rushing defence, and relinquishing possession in the danger area.
It was then the turn the turn of the Canadians to break once again, former Glasgow Warriors winger Taylor Paris keen to continued his recent try-scring run with a bolt up the line to the 22.
Clermont Auvergne lock Jamie Cudmore carried hard before the Scots conceded a penalty, which full-back James Pritchard stuck between the posts to level the match (3-3).
Canada continued to impress and eventually got the score they were denied earlier, when Ospreys wing Jeff Hassler collected an offload from centre Ciaran Hearn who cut through the Scottish midfield.
Pritchard missed the chance to add the extras so the Canadans led (3-8).
It took the Scots just five minutes to recover from the score, when the pack collected and mauled a five metre lineout up to the line.
The ball was recyclyed to 23 year-old lock Grant Gilchrist who powered over for his first score for his country.
Laidlaw added the extras and a further penalty from distance to give the boys in blue a slender lead at the interval, though they would start the second without Alasdair Strokosch who went off injured with a neck injury and sent to Hospital as a precaution, though he would later rejoin the team at the hotel the same night.
Pritchard kicked a pair of penalties through the posts to put his side back in the lead as a stuttering second-half got underway (13-14).
Being behind kicked the Scots into gear once again and their keenness to spread the ball wide almost exploited an overlap, only for the last Canadian defender to rush out for a make-or-break intercept and knock on.
The Scot’s injury woes depended, with hooker Kevin Bryce making his international debut as a back-row replacement for Johnnie Beattie, however full-back Stuart Hogg lifted spirits with a massive penalty kick from the half way line on the angle, retaking the lead once again (16-14).
Pritchard hit the post with another penalty attempt but made amends soon after with another kick that earned three points and the lead once again, ten minutes out from the final whistle.
Laidlaw was on song with an immediate reply in kind to swing the scoreline in Scotland’s favour (19-17) only for a very late, and kickable penalty to be awarded to the Canadians once again.
With the penalty awarded, the referee turned to the TMO to review a leading elbow, which floored replacement stand-off Ruaridh Jackson.
The officials took a dim view of the contact made, red carded Jebb Sinclair and switched the penalty in favour of Scotland, who saw out the win in Toronto.
The schedule for the summer tour was such that two, largely distinct, squads were named for each half of the four Test tour.
A small group of players and management will carry over to Argentina, where they’ll team up with the second touring group to face the Pumas on Friday at the Estadio Mario Kempes in Cordoba.
Canada: 15 James Pritchard; 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Nick Blevins, 11 Taylor Paris; 10 Harry Jones, 9 Phil Mack; 1 Hubert Buydens, 2 Aaron Carpenter, 3 Jason Marshall, 4 Tyler Hotson, 5 Jamie Cudmore, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 7 John Moonlight, 8 Tyler Ardron CAPTAIN. Substitutes: 16 Ray Barkwill, 17 Andrew Tiedemann, 18 Jake Ilnicki, 19 Kyle Gilmour, 20 Jon Phelan, 21 Gordon McRorie, 22 Connor Braid, 23 DTH van der Merwe.
Scotland team: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tim Visser; 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN; 1 Gordon Reid, 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Moray Low, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 7 Kelly Brown, 8 Johnnie Beattie. Substitutes: 16 Kevin Bryce on for Beattie (58'), 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Geoff Cross on for Moray Low (50'), 19 Kieran Low on for Brown (50'), 20 Blair Cowan on for Strokosch (31’), 21 Grayson Hart on for Jackson (76'), 22 Ruaridh Jackson on for Russell (62'), 23 Max Evans on for Visser (65').