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Canada Soar over Eagles at the Nations Rugby Cup
Canada has defeated the United States in their second match at the 2011 Nations Cup, in Chatham, Ontario. Canada blitzed the Americans with three second-half tries that sealed the bonus-point win, as well as the team's second straight victory of the tournament.
You felt that something special was in the air, as the event stands in Chatham began to fill with hundreds of passionate rugby fans; many of them young girls, who cheered their national team on to the field against the country's fiercest rival.
After a magical rendition of the English and South African national anthems earlier, a member of the Chatham-Kent Havoc women's program sang stirring versions of the American and Canadian anthems, which had players on both clubs jumping as the referee's whistle blew.
Having employed an effective kicking game against England two days before, the Americans started the game by trying to pin Canada back in their own end with deep corner kicks. Canada responded by engaging in kicking duels, until the opportune moment. The game saw many fine counter attacks by both sides; however, it was Canada who would end the first half with a narrow 14 - 10 lead.
Canada's points in the first forty minutes came from a pair of Jenn Kish tries. Kish, who has starred for Canada on the Sevens circuit is quickly establishing herself as a world class openside. She was everywhere on the pitch, and twice she appeared in support at the perfect moment to receive offloads and score a brace of tries.
Winger Andrea Burk would slot both the conversions, as she would with all of Canada's tries on the day. The crowd in Chatham was being treated to a wonderful display of running rugby.
The story of the second-half was one of agility and fitness. Canadian counter attacks slowly began cutting through the American defence; with Burk, Landry and Marchak all collecting scores which displayed their speed and "X-Factor".
When the final whistle blew, the score would be 35 - 7 for Canada; a result Coach John Tait could be happy of.
"I think this match showed the quality work that has been done individually by our athletes, and at our regional training centres around the country. The USA play a simple game of rugby, but they play it well. They put us under pressure today at the breakdown, and that is an area we will have to address for our game versus England in a few days time. For now, I will simply say that I am extremely proud of these elite athletes."
American Head Coach Peter Stienberg was disapointed with his team's loss, but admitted the tournament's structure is a challenging one, especially for new players.
"Our players came here to win and we didn't, so we are very disapointed with that. In truth, it was very hard to recover from our intense game against England two days ago. Unfortunately, we just don't have the fitness levels to deal with that right now. But we will improve. All credit to Canada, they are deserving winners."
Following this match, it would be easy for observers to point to the pace and power of Canada's backs, many of whom are on the international Sevens circuit; however, that would be neglecting a crucial facet of today's win. It was Canada's forwards who absorbed some strong American pressure, and gave their team the attacking platform they needed to succeed.
Captain and #8 Kelly Russell spoke about how important Canada's forwards performance was to the victory:
"Our forwards are always doing a lot of work around the pitch to get clean and quick ball to the backs. They are ruthless and they are in there every play. Everyone knows they those tries would never have come if they weren't there for us, all the time."
Canada are now 2 - 0 and sit atop the table at this year's Nations Cup tournament. The team will now rest and prepare for their first of two matches against England. Those teams will meet in the last of the competion's round-robin matches on this coming Tuesday, in Oakville, and then again - whatever the result - in the tournament's Grand Final, on August 13th.
In the day's other clash, England defeated a noble South African side, by a score of 46 - 8.
Final Score: Canada (35) - USA ( 17)
Canada Tries: Kish (2), Landry, Marchak, Burk
Canada Conversions: Burk (5)
USA Tries: Turley, Dowty
USA Conversions: Kosanke (2)
USA Penalties: Kosanke