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Canada vs. USA: Date, Start Time and Preview for 2015 Rugby World Cup Qualifier

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 23, 2013

NELSON, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 27:  Todd Clever of the USA makes a run during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Italy and the USA at Trafalgar Park on September 27, 2011 in Nelson, New Zealand.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Taking an 18-point aggregate advantage back to Toronto this week, a place in the 2015 Rugby World Cup’s Pool D would appear to be as good as Canada’s.

The Maple Leafs eased to a 27-9 win over the USA in Charleston last Saturday, thanks in large part to a non-existent Eagles offence.

Although it won’t mean the end of either side’s World Cup qualification hopes, there’s a certain amount of pride at stake between North America’s two rugby powerhouses, of which Canada certainly boast more at this point.

For the second and final leg of the series, Canadian head coach, Kieran Crowley, has made just two changes to his matchday squad, with Jamie Cudmore and Ryan Hamilton dropping out through injury, replaced by Tyler Hotson and Ray Barkwill, respectively.

Where: BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario

When: Saturday Aug. 24 at 4 p.m. ET (9 p.m. BST)

Watch: TSN (Canada)

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Live Stream: TSN Mobile TV (Canada, subscription required)

Canada Player to Watch: DTH van der Merwe

One of Canada’s two try-scorers in Game One, DTH van der Merwe was a standout figure in the Maple Leaves’ most recent triumph.

The winger crossed the whitewash with extreme cool, coming in off the flank to slice through the USA defence from short range.

However, it was encouraging to see the Glasgow-based back perform so well in defence, too, preventing the Eagles from making much headway down his side of the pitch.

Van der Merwe will undoubtedly be looked upon as one of the bigger talents in Canada’s setup given his experience playing with the Warriors and stepped up to the plate last week.

The only question that remains is whether or not he’s good enough to do just the same again on in Game Two.

USA Player to Watch: Takudzwa Ngwenya

Positioned opposite Canada’s Van der Merwe is Takudzwa Ngwenya, who was unable to exert much of an influence on matters last week thanks to an extreme lack of supply and a much greater amount of defensive work.

The Biarritz speedster is one of the more obvious stars in the USA squad, with a raft of Top 14 and Heineken Cup experience under his belt, but didn’t stand out particularly last weekend.

Ngwenya was forced into prioritising most of his game in defence, far from his greatest strength given that he usually relies on a strategy of being able to score one more than his opponent.

That being said, if the likes of Toby L’Estrange, Chris Wyles and the centre partnership of Andrew and Roland Suniula are able to draw in their opponent and open up space out wide, 28-year-old Ngwenya is the man to finish.

Key Matchup: Canada Pack vs. USA Pack

In the end, one very telling factor between the two sides came from open play; momentary lapses in concentration in defence causing the USA to allow a slew of Canadian breaks in their own half.

However, the USA's forward unit is equally as strong as their Canadian counterparts and can hope to take advantage of the few, key injuries that the Maple Leaves now have in their line-up.

If the scrum and set-piece can set a foundation in the match and perhaps even bully Canada in areas, Todd Clever’s pack can open up the necessary space for the Eagles backs to shrink the 18-point deficit in no time, but a Canada victory remains most likely.

Prediction: Canada 18-7 USA

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