Canada won all three matches in Salt Lake City, adding the scalp of Six Nations champions France to those of world champions England and hosts USA in a tournament which is a key part of the teams’ preparations for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland in less than 13 months’ time.
The Canadians’ 52-17 win over England on 1 July had already lifted them above Ireland into fourth in the rankings, but two more wins – each also by more than 15 points – have now lifted the WRWC 2014 runners-up above both England and France to second behind New Zealand.
France will fall two places to fourth when the rankings update at 12:00 UK time on Monday after two defeats in the last seven days, while USA will drop one to seventh after losing their third match on home soil – 39-13 to England – in nine days, with Australia the beneficiaries.
Six Nations champions France had scored the opening try through captain Gaelle Mignot, but when number eight Safi N’Diaye was sin-binned just before the half-hour mark it was an opportunity Canada jumped upon, stringing over 20 phases together before flanker Barbara Mervin dotted down.
They added another through Andrea Burk after flanker Latoya Blackwood had pierced the French defensive line and it was to get even better with a third Canadian try before half-time, a first test score for winger Frédérique Rajotte making it 19-5 at the break.
THE COMPLETE PERFORMANCE
Mignot’s second try cut the deficit to 19-10 after 49 minutes and the score remained that way for almost 20 minutes until replacement prop Olivia DeMerchant charged over from the breakdown. Blackwood put the gloss on a memorable tournament for Canada with a fifth try three minutes from time.
“It’s a pretty impressive performance by all of our players in the three games,” said Shaun Allen, who stepped in as head coach when Francois Ratier was unavailable for personal reasons. “We showed a lot of heart, a lot of tenacity.
“Today was as close to a complete performance as we could put together.
“It’s important to get wins over those three countries to start building some momentum towards the Women’s Rugby World Cup. The wins against these teams validate the process that our players are going through.”
England continued their recovery from the opening day mauling by Canada with a commanding 39-13 victory over USA to finish as runners-up behind their conquerors in the four-team round-robin tournament.
Winger Lydia Thompson scored three of the world champions’ seven tries in the victory at the Regional Athletic Complex, including the opener after only five minutes following some quick hands by the England backline.
BITS AND PIECES
England’s forwards were a dominant force for long periods and a rolling maul provided the first of two tries for hooker Amy Cokayne after 20 minutes. Fly-half Kimber Rozier kicked a penalty just before half-time but Thompson’s try made it 15-3 to England as the teams trooped off.
Flanker Alex Matthews and replacement back Millie Wood also got their names on the scoreboard as England stepped up a gear in the second half, before Thompson completed her hat-trick with a fine solo try.
The Women’s Eagles did manage to cross the try-line themselves through Alycia Washington seven minutes from time but it was nothing more than a consolation score and they will go back to the drawing board after three losses, two of them heavy.
“I am hugely proud of that result today. It’s been a tough two weeks having got off to the start we did against Canada,” said England lead coach Scott Bemand. “The USA threw everything at us physically and our girls have done ever so well to come back here, stick to their principles and then ultimately come up with the result.”
USA associate head coach Peter Baggetta added: “I think you saw, in bits and pieces, an attacking structure that allows us to move the ball and attack through the spaces. I thought we played, at times, some exciting rugby. There was some nice offloading, nice running lines. We saw glimpses of that.
“What we didn’t have is enough consistency with that attacking play and enough consistency with taking care of the ball. It’s incumbent on us as coaches to find out what we need to do better to prepare the team.”
View all the results from the 2016 Women’s Rugby Super Series.
Article credit: World Rugby
Photo credits: Neil Kennedy (main), Paul Rudman (inset)