SAO JOSE DOS CAMPOS, Brazil — New Zealand-born fly half Josh Reeves kicked six penalties Saturday to lift Brazil to an 18-10 comeback win over Canada in Americas Rugby Championship play.
The Canadian men had plenty of early possession and led 10-0 but Brazil's dominance in the scrum and Reeves' kicking — he was good on six of eight attempts — proved to be the difference. Canada coach Kingsley Jones had warned about the Brazilian set piece and the South Americans proved him right on the night at Estadio Martins Pereira.
Canada's offence was stagnant as the game wore on.
Ciaran Hearn scored a try for Canada and booted a penalty and conversion. He missed two other penalty kicks, one from long range.
Jones called it a "hard lesson" learned for Canada.
"You've got to kill teams like Brazil off and we failed to do that," said the former Wales captain.
"The mental aspect is certainly an issue for us ... They've got two things — a world-class kicker and a good scrum," he added. "We're better everywhere really than Brazil but we've got to congratulate Brazil because mentally they did the job on us."
Canada lost 20-17 to Uruguay on a last-second try in its tournament opener last weekend.
Earlier Saturday, Argentina XV — it has once again fielded a reserve side in the tournament — downed the 12th-ranked Americans 45-14 in Cipolletti, Argentina.
On Friday, No. 17 Uruguay defeated No. 29 Chile 20-5 in Montevideo.
Argentina XV tops the standings at 2-0-0 with 10 points thanks to bonus points gained in their wins. Uruguay, also 2-0-0, is second with eight points. Canada (0-2-0) is fifth with one bonus point ahead of winless Chile at zero points.
Brazil was thumped 54-3 last weekend by Argentina XV.
While No. 20 Canada is ranked eight places ahead of Brazil, Jones was missing many of his overseas pros — and some top domestic talent — who helped secure World Cup qualification with wins over Kenya, Germany and Hong Kong at a November repechage in France.
Those missing include Tyler Ardron, Ray Barkwill, Brett Beukeboom, Hubert Buydens, Matt Evans, Jake Ilnicki, Phil Mack, Gord McRorie, Shane O'Leary, Evan Olmstead, Taylor Paris, Conor Trainor and DTH van der Merwe.
Fullback Theo Sauder was a late injury scratch for Canada. Hearn shifted to fullback with Nick Blevins coming into centre. Canada lost No. 8 Luke Campbell to an injury when his knee buckled in a scrum. He had to helped off late in the first half.
Justin Blanchet, winning his first cap, came on in relief. Scrum half Will Percillier also earned his first cap off the bench.
Hearns won his 65th cap, moving past Scott Stewart to take over fourth spot in national team appearances. The 33-year-old from Conception Bay South, N.L., who won his first cap against Ireland in 2008, trails only Winston Stanley (66 caps), Al Charron (76) and Aaron Carpenter (80) on the all-time list.
The Brazilian scrum, which had excelled in the loss to Argentina XV, had its way with Canada winning penalties in two of the first three set pieces.
Hearns put Canada ahead 3-0 with a penalty kick three minutes in. And he increased the lead to 10-0 with a converted try in the ninth minute with a fine solo run after a Canadian lineout win.
Brazil cut the lead to 10-3 in the 13th minute on a Reeves penalty after a Canadian scrum penalty. Reeves, who plays for the Utah Warriors in Major League Rugby, qualifies for Brazil via residency after moving there with his Brazilian fiancee (now wife).
A second scrum penalty led to a Reeves penalty as Brazil made it 10-6 in the 19th minute. Blanchet's no-arms tackle triggered another Brazil penalty, cutting Canada's advantage to 10-9 in the 37th minute.
Brazil pulled ahead 12-10 in the 44th minute after Canada was penalized for offside on a high kick.
A knock-on by fly half Pat Parfrey led to a Brazilian scrum and another penalty which Reeves slotted over in the 47th minute for a 15-10 lead. Brazil won another scrum penalty that Reeves converted in the 55th minute for an 18-10 lead.
Flanker Lucas Rumball captained Canada, earning his 27th cap — and fourth as captain.
Canada is now 2-2-0 against Brazil with all four fixtures part of the ARC dating back to 2016. Brazil’s other victory came in 2017 at Estadio do Pacaembu by a score of 24-23.
The tournament focus now switches to Langford, B.C., where Canada will host No. 29 Chile on Feb. 22 and Argentina XV on March 1.
The Canadian men wrap up play March 8 in Seattle against the defending champion Americans.
The Canadian Press