England and New Zealand began the Super Series in Canada with big wins over their North American opponents
Canada's Latoya Blackwood tries to duck a New Zealand tackle (Calgary Herald)
In their best performance since the World Cup last year, England's women ran in seven tries to beat the USA 39-13 in the Rugby Super Series in Calgary and make it a winning start for new coach Scott Bemand.
With the most experienced squad in the series, England began as favourites against a US team where coach Pete Steinberg was blooding 13 new players.
On firm ground with the sun on their backs, both teams adopted an exhilarating, attacking style that showed again how sevens seems to be influencing play at fifteens.
An impressive and enthusiastic crowd filled the stands - despite the alternative attraction of their national football team’s World Cup quarter final – on warm summer’s day in Calgary. The US showed great promise at the start, taking advantage of repeated England infringements to take an early lead with a penalty from Kimberly Rozier after just three minutes, but England responded almost immediately four minutes later. The power of the England pack pushed the US off their own scrum, with Katy Mason skipping past two tackles on the left the ball with quickly moved back across the field to Emily Scott who also stepped through the US line to score.
USA had their chances to respond immediately, but penalty and try-scoring opportunities were missed before England broke out of defence with some more great work from Mason. With the England pack maintaining their accendancy, a drive for the line was held up at the expense of gaps in the US defence with Kay Wilson again on hand to take advantage.
England were now throwing the ball around with huge confidence, and on 29 minutes Rowena Burnfield added a third try and just three minutes late Sarah McKenna added a fourth.
One player who was standing in the way of a rout was US fullback Jessica Wooden, whose great defensive tackling saved at least one try if not two, and it was appropriate that just before halftime she raised US hopes with a great try of her own, her acceleration breaking the England line to give a halftime score of 22-8.
However it only took three minutes for England to regain the advantage, Amber Reed turning the US over before some great interchange with Sarah Hunter setting up Abby Scott with the ball then working its way to McKenna to score in the corner. Then on 49 minutes another England try, this time a drive from a lineout, McKenna being credited.
The US pulled a penalty back as the benches began to be used – with England’s replacements having the impact, literally in the case of Emily Scarratt whose huge hit soon after she came on turned the ball over on 66 minutes before less than a minute later she was on hand on the other side of the field to let in debutant Rachel Lund who scored with her first touch of the ball in test rugby.
That completed the scoring, with England seeing out the game to win by 39-13.
England Head Coach Simon Middleton, in his first XVs game in charge, said: “This was a solid start with a performance that had lots of positives as well as lots still to come. We have worked hard on our decision making and focussed on playing with heads up and attacking the space. I thought we did this extremely well, particularly in the first half.
“We did look a bit rusty and at times our execution just fell a touch short of what we were looking for, but given the lack of time we have had together this is to be expected. Having said that we pulled some really good passages of play together particularly in the first half and scored some excellent team tries.
“It was also great to get our two new caps Lark Davies and Rachael Lund on the field and what a dream start with Rachael scoring with her first touch of the ball after a line-out thrown by Lark.
“Recovery will be the key now as we will undoubtedly face a sterner test against a New Zealand side that dispatched Canada convincingly on Saturday without really looking at their best. We’ll be looking to field some of our more experienced players on Wednesday to add fresh legs and build on a good start.”
England 15 Sarah McKenna (Saracens), 14 Kay Wilson (Thurrock), 13 Amber Reed (Bristol) VC, 12 Ceri Large (Worcester), 11 Katie Mason (Bristol), 10 Emily Scott (Thurrock), 9 Bianca Blackburn (Worcester), 1 Vicky Cornborough (Richmond), 2 Amy Cockayne (Lichfield), 3 Laura Keates (Worcester), 4 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 5 Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 6 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), 7 Marlie Packer (Wasps), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) C, Replacements:, 16 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 17 Lark Davis (Worcester), 18 Justine Lucas (Lichfield), 19 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 20 Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), 21 Leanne Riley (Saracens), 22 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 23 Rachel Lund (Worcester)
Substitutions: Matthews for Gallagher (44), Clark for Cornborough (48), Luca for Keates (48), Taylor for Packer (60), Riley for Blackburn (62), Mason for Lund (66), Davies for Cockayne (66), Scarratt for Large (66)
United States, 1. Sarah Chobot (C) , 2. Kathryn Augustyn , 3. Hope Rogers , 4. Stacey Bridges , 5. Alycia Washington , 6. Laura Miller , 7. Elizabeth Cairns , 8. Jordan Gray , 9. Deven Owsiany , 10. Kimberly Rozier , 11. Cheta Emba , 12. Jennifer Sever , 13. Jane Paar , 14. Kelsi Stockert , 15. Jessica Wooden,
Reserves 16. Samantha Pankey , 17. Baylee Annis , 18. Catherine Benson , 19. Molly Kinsella , 20. Sara Parsons , 21. Jennifer Lui , 22. Lauren Rhode , 23. Nicole Heavirland
[Report from New Zealand Herald]. The Black Ferns will take the 40-22 win over Canada, but they know there is much to do to take down England in their next match of the women's Super Series on Thursday.
In warm conditions in Calgary, the Black Ferns scored seven tries to four in an open clash, but they were pressured in the opening quarter and in the scrums by a committed Canadian outfit.
The score might have been much higher were it not for No 9 Kendra Cocksedge kicking only two from seven off the tee, though she played very well around the field and took the official player of the match gong.
Black Ferns debutant blindside flanker Charlene Halapua opened the scoring after just five minutes on the short side, before wing Honey Hireme swung into action, showing her sheer pace for an impressive brace.
Second five Chelsea Alley was also prominent, making several thrusts in the midfield and scoring a try of her own.
Turning at 18-12, New Zealand were quickly into their second spell work, wing Renee Wickliffe and Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali scoring, but they could not pull clear until triple international Janna Vaughan scored with her first touch of the ball on debut.
Captain and hooker Fiao'o Fa'amausili was proud of her charges.
"Canada gave it to us in the first 20 minutes, especially, but we dug deep in these hot conditions."
They performed well at the breakdown, if not always at the set-piece.
"We take pride in our breakdown and muscling up," she added.
Canada's standout player was openside flanker Latoya Blackwood, who scored a try and muscled up without the ball, making a nuisance of herself in the forward exchanges.
In the first match of the doubleheader, Rugby World Cup holders England beat USA 39-13.
New Zealand faces England in Red Deer in their second game.
Black Ferns 40 (Honey Hireme 2, Charlene Halapua, Chelsea Alley, Renee Wickliffe Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, Janna Vaughan tries; Kendra Cocksedge con, pen)
Canada 22 (Olivia DeMerchant, Amanda Thornborough, Latoya Blackwood, Tyson Beukeboom tries; Andrea Burk con) Halftime: 18-12 Black Ferns
Canada 1 - Laura Russell - captain, (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON, 2 - Mary-Jane Kirby, (Highland RFC) Brampton, ON, 3 - Olivia DeMerchant, (Woodstock Wildmen) Mapledale, NB, 4 - Tyson Beukeboom, (Aurora Barbarians) Uxbridge, ON, 5 - Maria Samson, (Calgary Hornets) Calgary, AB, 6 - Barbara Mervin, (Velox RFC) Peterborough, ON, 7 - Latoya Blackwood, (St. Anne de Bellevue) Montreal, QC, 8 - Jacey Murphy, (Aurora Barbarians) Alliston, ON, 9 - Chelsea Guthrie, (Stratchona Druids) Edmonton, AB, 10 - Alex Tessier, (Montreal Barbarians) Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QB, 11 - Natasha Smith, (Barrhaven Scottish) Ottawa, ON, 12 - Andrea Burk, (Capilano RFC) North Vancouver, BC, 13 - Amanda Thornborough, (Brandon Barbarians RFC) Brandon, MB, 14 - Brittany Waters, (Meraloma Athletic Club) Vancouver, BC, 15 - Julianne Zussman, (Town of Mount Royal RFC) Montreal, QC
16 - Carolyn McEwen (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club), Vancouver, BC, 17 - Julia Folk, (Regina Rogues), Regina, SK, 18 - DaLeaka Menin, (Hornets) Vulcan, AB, 19 - Emma Taylor, (Halifax RFC) Halifax, NS, 20 - Cindy Nelles, (Oakville Crusaders / Belleville Bulldogs) Belleville, ON, 21 - Jess Neilson, (Meraloma) Vancouver, BC, 22 - Katie McNally (Velox Valkries) Guelph, ON, 23 - Lisa Gauthier, (St-Anne de Bellevue), St-Bernardino, ON
New Zealand 1 - Toka Natua, 2 - Fiao'o Fa'amusaili (captain), 3 - Aleisha Nelson, 4 - Eloise Blackwell, 5 - Chamaine Smith, 6 - Charlene Halapua, 7 - Justine Lavea, 8 - Linda Itunu, 9 - Kendra Cocksedge, 10 - Victoria Subritski-Nafatali, 11 - Renee Wickliffe, 12 - Chelsea Alley, 13 - Stacey Waaka, 14 - Honey Hireme, 15 - Selica Winiata (vice captain)
16 - Teresa Te Tamaki, 17 - Aldora Itunu, 18 - Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, 19 - Angie Sisifa, 20 - Lesley Ketu, 21 - Emma Jenson, 22 - Kiritapu Demant, 23 -Janna Vaughn,
England v NZ, KO 11pm BST
Canada v USA, KO 130am BST (July 2)
Red Deer Titans Park
New Zealand v USA, KO 11pm BST
England v Canada, 130am BST (July 6)
Ellerslie Rugby Park, Edmonton
All matches can be watched live on http://livestream.com/