Sears-Duru, Barkwill to test Romania in rugby

rugbycanadaBUCHAREST, Romania — Canada’s senior men’s head coach Mark Anscombe has made three changes to his starting XV for Saturday’s (Nov. 19) test rugby match against Romania.

Ben Lesage will make his test debut at inside centre while Admir Cejvanovic and Matt Heaton make their first test starts for Canada. DTH van der Merwe will captain the side. The game can be seen LIVE on TSN 2 and TSN GO at 11am ET/8am PT.

The Canadian team includes Golden Horseshoe players Djustice Sears-Duru (Glasgow Warriors/Ontario Blues) of Oakville, and Ray Barkwill (Castaway Wanderers/Ontario Blues) of Niagara Falls.

Anscombe has made no changes up front as Sears-Duru, Barkwill and Jake Ilnicki occupy the front row with Brett Beukeboom and Evan Olmstead starting at lock. Heaton joins Kyle Baillie at flanker while Cejvanovic, who made his test debut off the bench against Ireland, replaces the injured Aaron Carpenter at No. 8.

Gordon McRorie, who nailed all three conversions against Ireland, starts at scrum-half with Connor Braid getting his second consecutive start at fly-half. Taylor Paris and van der Merwe maintain their spots on the wing while Conor Trainor is joined by Ben Lesage at centre as the Calgary native will earn his first test cap Saturday. Matt Evans maintains his place at fullback.

Lesage was with Canada during their RISEAsOne Summer Series but failed to make his test debut during the three-match series. He was part of the Canada ‘A’ tour to the UK as well as playing in the Americas Pacific Challenge last month where he scored four tries in just three games.

There’s also the opportunity for Conor Keys to make his test debut as the Stittsville, Ont., native is named as a replacement. Saturday’s match is a rematch from last year’s Rugby World Cup where Romania came back from a 15-0 deficit to sneak past Canada 17-15.

Canada is 2-4 all-time against Romania with their last victory coming at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Romania has won the past four matchups.

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