A sterling second half performance from the Canada women’s rugby side last night in Florida was enough to see them see out victory over their nearest rivals the USA. The first game of the Atlantic Cup saw the USA lead 8-0 at the break but Canada dominated the second half and saw out the match 18-8.
Canadas winter preparation, which included a two game test series in Europe, in France stood to them late in the game as they scored 18 unanswered points to take the victory against their nearest rivals.
In the first half, the big difference was we were really moving forward and we needed to use the wind to our benefit. We didnt take advantage of the conditions as well as we should have, USA Head Coach Kathy Flores said. I thought we came out hard initially, but in the second half we seemed a bit complacent. Instead of pushing ourselves, we started accepting and we started getting on the back foot.
In a story of two halves the USA came out strongly in the early minutes and built momentum leading up to Nathalie Marchinos breakaway try after quick-tap penalty taken in the 13th minute. In the windy conditions as the home team took an early 5-0 lead.
The Eagles caught another break soon after when Canada centre Sarah Ulmer was sent packing for the sin bin. USA flyhalf slotted theresulting penalty kick, to put her team up 8-0. Despite scrappy play from both sides, the score would hold until halftime.
But Canada came out of the blocks firing in the second half. Ulmer made up for earlier yellow card with a try after she spotting a half-gap and the centre touched it down under the posts for Canadas first points of the match and Anna Schnell booted the extras to pull Canada within reach.
Flanker Jen Kish then made an immediate impact when she came off the bench, making an excellent break and then off-loading to create space for wing Cheryl Phillips. Phillips has scored in each of her last two international starts, including Canadas historic win over France and she did touched down again out wide here.
Schnell missed the difficult conversion, but was successful on an earlier penalty, bringing the tally to 18 8 in Canadas favor.
After the match, Ulmer said: I made them work really hard during that 10 minute period and they were brilliant. They absorbed the pressure, the goal-line defense and belief in each other and work rate was fantastic.
We had self-belief but credit to the Americans as theyre very organised; good pressure, continuity and phase play. Our challenge now is to put together back-to-back performances because thats how it will be at the World Cup with a very short turnaround.
USA and Canada will play again on Saturday, January 16th at 3pm following a 1pm kick off between the USA U20s and Canada U20s.
Tries: Nathalie Marchino
Pens: Hannah Stolba
Tries: Sarah Ulmer, Cheryl Phillips
Cons: Anna Schnell
Pens: Schnell (2)
HT: USA 8 0 Canada
YC: Ulmer (22mins)
USA: Farrah Douglas (Jamie Burke, 57 min),Mari Wallace (Kitt Wagner, 65 min), Naima Reddick, Jillion Potter, Sharon Blaney, Melanie Denham. Phaidra Knight (Kristin Zdanczewicz 57 min), Kate Daley, Kim Magrini (C), Hannah Stolba (Stephanie Bruce 68), Nathalie Marchino (Ashley English, 72 minutes), Melissa Kanuk, Emilie Bydwell, Ashley Kmiecik, Christy Ringgenberg
CANADA: Leslie Cripps (c), Leslie McKenzie, Marlene Donaldson, Marie-Eve Brindamour-Carignan (Paige Burdett 44 min), Megan Gibbs, Barbara Mervin, Gillian Florence (Jen Kish 53), Kelly Russell, Laura Stoughton, Anna Schnell, Cheryl Phillips, Sarah Ulmer, Mandy Marchak , Julianne Zussman (Darcy Patterson 77), Ashley Patzer