The Canadian state of Ontario played its first representative rugby league game this week, facing off against the England Lionhearts (North West).
Although the hosts lost the game, staged at Burlington Centaurs’ ground, 38-6, they handled the hot, humid, rainy, dark conditions well, and laid a foundation for future games.
Ontario coach Benjamin Fleming felt his players acquitted themselves with pride and skill.
“It was a really important first step was for Ontario Rugby League,” he said.
“In testing conditions, and with a few of the lads in their first year in the sport, the boys were gallant in defeat and can hold their heads high.
“Both teams played the match in the right spirit and our scrambling defence was a real highlight for us, there were far more positives to take away then negatives.
“The English lads were relentless in their knowledge of the game, fluidity and decision-making under pressure.”
Next up for the touring Lionhearts is a clash with the Canada national team, the Wolverines, in Toronto.
Fleming added: “The tone has been set for a gruelling encounter this Saturday when the Canadian Wolverines, fresh from their victory against Jamaica in the Americas Championship, play the Lionhearts at Lamport stadium, Toronto.”
Lionhhearts centre Matthew Norton scored a first-half hat trick of tries for the visitors.
Lionhearts coach Mick Blakeley felt that the Canadians had acquitted themselves well.
“We can take nothing away from the Canadians who gave a great account of themselves, played in the right spirit and took their chance well,” he said.
“Our experience showed through in the second half.”