Kenya Simbas started the repechage tournament on a false note losing 65-19 to Canada in the first round of matches on Sunday in Marseille, France.
Canada also picked a winning bonus point as they ran in 10 tries, a penalty and six conversions against Kenya's three tries, two of which were converted.
In what was the first ever meeting between the two sides, Van Der Merwe bagged a hattrick in the 10-tries festival with Brett Beukeboom(2), Theo Sauder(2), Tyler Ardron, Mike Shephard and Matt Evans also getting on the scoresheet.
Tony Onyango, George Nyambua and Leo Seje scored for Kenya with Sammy Oliech and Darwin Mukidza adding the conversions.
It's a good start for Canada in the round-robin tournament where the winner advances to Japan 2019 World Cup and slot in pool B that has New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia. Hong Kong are set to play Germany in the second match of the first round from 6pm.
Kenya's next match is against Hong Kong on Saturday November 17 at 3pm afetr which Canada will take on Germany.
How it happened:
Canada had early possession and Tyler Ardron was tackled without the ball, giving Gordy McRorie a chance to kick three points making no mistake for the first points.
Darwin Mukidza had a chance to level things but he missed a penalty courtesy of flanker Matt Heats's dangerous tackle that saw him sent to the bin for 10mins. Canada went 10-0 up after Van Der Merwe went over with the conversion going in.
That was followed by captain Philly Mack who sniped down the blindside to find Brett Beukeboom for his first international try in the right corner. Conversion was unsuccessful.
Kenya's driving maul set the platform and the ball flew through the hands for Tony Onyango to score their first points with the conversion going wide.
Heats returned on the field moment before Kenya survived another attack after flanker Evan Olmstead poached the ball from a breakdown and charged forward, but a knock on saw Kenya get a scrum.
It would be 20-5 after Van Der Merwe scored his second try of the match after a multi-phase attack that started with a driving maul off a penalty. With the penalty advantage in their favour, Kenya put a grubber kick through and Leo Seje touches down under the posts to make 20-12 after the extras.
Fullback Theo Sauder sliced through the defence to score Canada's bonus-point try and lead Kenya 27-12 at the break.
Kenya's forwards powered over the line through Nyambua to score under the posts for 27-19 but that did not last long as Ardron scored his 3rd international and a successful conversion saw the scoreboard move to 34-19.
Sauder was fortunate to finish off a multi-phase attack for his second try of the match in the right corner as Canada was starting to pull away.
Captain Mack once again sets up Brett Beukeboom for not only his second of the game, but second of his career. Conversion was successful from Gordy McRorie 15m in from the sideline.
Mike Sheppard scored his first international try on his first touch on his international debut to move to 53-19 after the extras after which Matt Evans outpaces his opposite number to touch down in the right corner after a great show of hands through the backs.
Van Der Merwe powered over the try line after 10+ phases for Canada deep inside Kenyan territory to bag his hattrick with Sauder converting to complete the 65-19 whitewash.