A tight game in Florida saw the USA hit back at Canada, who had beaten them earlier in the week, as the home team edged the second game of the Atlantic Cup 11-10.
Both sides made wholesale changes to their starting line-ups from the mid-week game with 11 and 13 new faces, respectively. The reshuffle had some impact in the first half as neither side could break the deadlock and a scoreless first half meant the match looked to be headed in the same direction as Tuesday, where Canada shone in the last 40 to defeat the US, 18 8.
However after the break the Americans struck first when out-half Stephanie Bruce slotted a penalty to put the Eagles up 3-0. Less than five minutes later, the Canadians answered back with an Ashley Patzer try, which saw the lead shift to 5-3, as the fullback found space and broke into the corner. From a tough angle, the conversion was no good and left the door open for the USA to reclaim the lead 6-5, off the reliable boot of Bruce.
As the half pressed on, the Canadians found themselves down in number due to yellow card troubles and the USA took control of their numerical advantage when number 8 Blair Groefsema scooped the ball off the scrum and the ball cycled through the hands of Claudia Braymer and Ashley English before finding winger Vanesha McGee on the outside. McGee bolted down the line to score in the corner to extend the lead to 11-5 with just over 10 minutes left to play.
Canada had one last chance for glory as the forwards steadily punched toward the tryline before finding outside centre Mandy Marchak for the try that brought the tally within one point. However, the conversion was no good, and the kick didnt make it and the home team hung on to win it 11-10.
Canada will reflect on a game which saw them concede too many penalties and they were punished by yellow cards for both Jen Kish and Marlene Donaldson.
USA coach Kathy Flores said: I was obviously happy with the outcome of the match; however, we still need to work on our fundamental skills and retaining the ball in contact,
Overall, the team showed more confidence today a switch triggered inside them where they were ready to rise to the challenge of defeating Canada.
Canada fullback Ashley Patzer added We made a couple of crucial mistakes; we had two yellow cards so were a player short for 20 minutes and thats really difficult to come back from, but we still played really hard.
That last minute of play was a huge positive. We punched it out. We should have been playing like that the whole game, but we know we can play like that and were fit enough to play like that, but we just need to find that deep desire to work that hard for the entire game.
* Earlier in the afternoon, the Canada U20s team beat the USA 13-12. In an evenly contested first half, neither team got on the board until a penalty against the USA gave Canada its only three points of the half. Down but not out, the USA kicked into high gear before the close of the half. BrieAnna Barto was first to strike, pushing over the line for a try. Anne Lees accurate conversion brought the USA out front and number 8 Candace Barley brought the score to 12-3 at halftime. Canadas Misha Maric scored early in the half to pull her team within striking distance at 12-8. With five minutes to go, Katie McNally dotted down to go ahead 13-12 where the score held until the end
SCORING USA V Canada (senior game)
Tries: Ashley Patzer, Mandy Marchak
YC: Marlene Donaldson, Jen Kish
Tries: Vanesha McGill
Pens: Stephanie Bruce (2)
Photo credit: Meghan Mutrie
Photo caption: Ashley Patzer (15) and Julia Sugawara (9) tackle US winger Vanesha McGill