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Canada belt United States to close in on rugby World Cup

Canada moved a step closer to a berth in the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England with a 27-9 opening leg victory in a qualifier over the United States in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday.

Having lost to their neighbors just once since 2005, Canada scored three tries and limited the U.S. to just three penalties to take a nice buffer into the return leg at home next Saturday.

The aggregate winner will automatically qualify for the World Cup while the loser has a last chance in a two-leg playoff with Uruguay.

Phil Mack scored in the opening minutes for Canada to claim an early 7-0 advantage and they extended it to 13-0 by halftime thanks to two James Pritchard penalty goals.

Chris Wyles booted a penalty for the U.S. soon after the restart but Harry Jones ran over to power Canada to a 20-3 lead.

DTH Van Der Merwe sealed the match for the visitors with a 64th-minute try.

(Reporting by Ben Everill; Editing by Ian Ransom)