Canada’s National Senior Women’s Team showed true character, outclassing Scotland 41 – nil on Tuesday in response to a shock-loss to France, and set up one of the best-written scripts in sports drama.
As Canada were trouncing the Scots, their North American neighbours were doing the same to the Irish on a parallel pitch, meaning Canada and the USA will face off for the fifth time this year (Canada lead 3-2) and the 28th time (USA lead 15 – 12) in history for the 2010 World Cup fifth place final.
Today’s performance was Canada’s blatant response to their loss to France, which cost them a place in the top four. In a pre-match interview, flanker Gillian Florence was adamant about her side’s resiliency, and she was proven correct as Canada ran in six tries. And let none in.
Florence was one of a number of standout performances by the NSWT. Both Heather Moyse and Cheryl Phillips scored twice for Canada; it was Moyse’s fifth and sixth tries of the tournament, bringing her total to 30 points.
Canada clearly had success in the backs against Scotland, with the other two tries coming through the centres and on the wing, by Mandy Marchak and Maria Gallo respectively.
Flyhalf Anna Schnell has been quietly creeping her way up the scoring charts as well, with a total of 36 points via her boot, but her value for Canada extends off the score sheet as she has been a reliable pivot point throughout the tournament.
Schnell added 11 more to her tally today, dotting the ‘i’ of Canada’s more complete performance. Set piece was sharp, communication was better and the passing, for the most part, was spot on; their defense was a talking point.
Canada showed true grit when, in the second half, they were given almost simultaneous yellow cards to Heather Jaques and Corinne Jacobsen, but conceded no points and little territory.
Head Coach John Long felt the way his team handled the adversity of being down by two players spoke volumes.
“[They were] absolutely fantastic. There was a lot of character in there. Those forwards didn’t want to give up, and nor did the centres. I was really pleased for them.
Come the final whistle, the players were all too aware of what had materialized next door and were already thinking ahead to Sunday’s fifth place playoff against their familiar foes.
Contests between the North American rivals have been notoriously close; four of the last five matches have been decided by seven points or less. Coach Long knows this all too well and expects the contest to be nothing less than fierce, regardless of how familiar the teams are with each other.
“We’re so used to playing each other, it’s a case of Groundhog Day plus six.”
Canada will play the USA for fifth place in the 2010 World Cup on Sunday, September 1 at 1.30pm BST.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS