Canada was a player short for 10 minutes but still outscored the USA Eagles five tries to two at Bear Mountain Stadium in Langford, BC.
Canada’s National Senior Women’s Rugby Team won its last game before the 2010 World Cup and in doing so, completed a sweep of the Can-Am series by defeating the USA Eagles by a score of 34-22 at Bear Mountain Stadium in Langford, BC.
The way Canada came out of the gate with a try for fullback Julianne Zussman after just two minutes, they looked to run away with the match, but a yellow card in a pivotal position halted Canada’s momentum and brought the USA to life.
Contests between the North American rivals have been notoriously close; the last four matches have been decided by seven points or less, including Monday’s test when Olympian Heather Moyse scored a last-minute to give Canada a 14-8 victory.
Canada’s first three tries were all scored in the backs as the end result of simple offloads after touching several sets of hands. Zussman’s initial try clearly stung the USA who could only muster 12 points in the opening frame.
The Americans rallied after half and the 27th test between these two nations became another arm wrestle.
Scrumhalf Laura Stoughton was given a yellow card for not rolling away at the breakdown, leaving Canada unsure of whom to slot into the central role. Match captain Maria Gallo stepped into the position, more for her leadership abilities than her pass, and the Canadians were able to hold the States scoreless while a player down.
Canada exhaled early and USA wing Vanesha McGee crossed the line just as Stoughton returned to the pitch, leveling the score at 22.
The NSWT found themselves on their own 5m line numerous times, but their defense held and shifted the match’s momentum yet again. The Canadian pack stood out for its efforts all over the pitch, but especially in open play both offensively and defensively.
Stoughton found redemption for her absence in the form of a try, scoring in similar fashion to the first three. Replacement flanker Heather Jaques capped off an exceptionally sharp game with Canada’s last try.
From there, it was a matter of battening down the hatches to weather the certain USA storm. Canada would hold on to give them the Can-Am sweep, and assurance that they have come a long way since losing to the USA in the 2009 Nations Cup in August.
These two wins over the USA give Canada the perfect platform from which to narrow their focus to the World Cup in August.
Head Coach Johnathan Long has asked his team to play in the National Women’s League Final to get as much match-time as possible before August.
A squad of 26 athletes and six non-travelling reserves will go to the 2010 World Cup in England. The roster will be announced publicly after the NWL Championship once the NSWT coaching staff has had a chance to confirm the availability of all 32 players selected.
Canada will play Scotland in the opening match of the 2010 Rugby World Cup in London on August 20.
Canada 34 (22)
Tries: Julianne Zussman, Brittany Waters, Mandy Marchak, Laura Stoughton, Heather Jaques
Conversions: Schnell (2), Marchak
USA 22 (10)
Tries: Christine Ringgenberg, Emily Bydwell, Vanesha McGee
Conversions: Ringgenberg (2)
Canada’s NSWT is proud to be sponsored by Landlink Consulting Ltd.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ron LeBlanc
photos Janos Schmidt