MARSEILLE, France, Nov 11 – Kenya national 15s team kicked off their repechage rugby World Cup campaign on a wrong footing after succumbing to a 65-19 defeat to Canada in the opening match of the round robin.
The North Americans won the first of their three repechage games in Marseille, to decide the final spot at next year’s World Cup in Japan, in the ten-try romp.
As well as Van der Merwe’s treble, full-back Theo Sauder and lock Brett Beukeboom both scored two tries each.
Canada’s powerful pack proved too strong for the lighter Kenyans as Kingsley Jones’ side pulled away with six converted second-half tries without reply.
The winner of the four-team repechage tournament — involving Canada, Kenya, plus Germany and Hong Kong, who meet later (1500 GMT), goes into Pool B at the 2019 Rugby World Cup alongside New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia and Italy.
Canada will next face Germany next Saturday after Hong Kong play Kenya in the second round of matches.
The Canadians held a commanding 27-12 lead at the break as South African-born Glasgow Warriors wing Van der Merwe, 32, scored two first-half tries.
Fly-half Gordon McRorie, who claimed 13 points with the boot, converted two of Canada’s four tries in the opening 40 minutes as they took advantage of poor tackling.
Kenya got back in contention straight after the break when lock George Nyambua crashed over for a converted try to make it 27-19.
However, the Canadians quickly built a 20-point lead as No. 8 Tyler Ardron crossed, then Sauder touched down for the second of his two converted tries to make it 39-19 with 25 minutes left.
A flurry of Canadian tries followed as the Kenyans tired and Van der Merwe completed his hat-trick by powering over just before the final whistle.