Canada dominant in first match of the Women’s Rugby World Cup
Submitted by Bryan Kelly
The contest was a mismatch from the outset as the veteran Canadian side scored 16 tries against a Hong Kong outfit that was playing in their first ever Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Within five minutes of the opening kickoff, Canada’s Andrea Burk sparked the offensive foray and the 2014 WRWC silver medallists were off and running. By the end of it all, Canada’s Magali Harvey put up five tries, while captain Kelly Russell had a hat trick, Elissa Alarie, Amanda Thornborough and Burk tallied two tries apiece and Alex Tessier and Brittany Waters each crossed the line once.
Harvey, who scored 41 total points and was named the Player of the Match, added eight conversions. Second half replacement Brianna Miller also slotted a conversion.
Harvey’s point total put over past 200 points all-time with Canada as she now has 234. Burk’s 10 points put her beyond 150 all-time with Canada. She now has 152. Both Russell and Alarie surpassed 50 points with Canada, as both are now on 55 points all-time.
“I’m really proud of the team and the effort they put in,” Russell said. “There are some things to fix going forward, but we’ll get there.”
After building a 46-point halftime lead, the Francois Ratier-coached Canadians, who are ranked third in the World Rugby rankings, rolled out the bench over the course of the second half but still put up another 52 points.
“It’s important to get all of our girls out on the pitch because we want these girls to come up and bring up the pace when they step on and that’s exactly what they did,” Russell said. “Across the board anyone of those girls can be in that starting lineup. It’s just starters and finishers.”
Wednesday’s meeting with Hong Kong, who are ranked 23rd in the world, was the first international test match between the two nations.
“Credit to Hong Kong,” Russell said. “They were really good in the rucks. They gave it to us a couple times and that’s something we’re going to have to clean up going forward.”
Canada will now prepare to face Wales Sunday, before taking on No. 1-ranked and four-time World Cup champion New Zealand Aug. 17 in their final match of pool play.
With their debut, Hong Kong became the 19th nation to compete in the WRWC. Canada is one of only four nations to have participated in all seven editions of the WRWC.
Andrea Burk opened the scoring inside the first five minutes, capitalizing on a powerful surge up the middle of the park from captain Kelly Russell before eventually receiving an offload and touching down for Canada’s first try of their World Cup campaign.
Elissa Alarie tallied Canada’s second try of the afternoon with a solo effort, slicing through the Hong Kong defence, dummying and fending her way across the line.
The early Canadian offensive onslaught continued when Magali Harvey took a short pass from Karen Paquin and ran in her first of the day. Converting her own try, Harvey put Canada up 19-0 before the match was 15 minutes old.
Shortly thereafter, a strong run from Frederique Rajotte put the Canadians on the Hong Kong doorstep and Russell did the rest, lunging over the line for Canada’s fourth try.
Just beyond the 25-minute mark, Harvey continued to force the issue, putting up her second try, stepping through the defence and touching down.
Six minutes later, Russell put her second try on the board after Canada pushed a five-metre scrum across the line.
A driving run from DaLeaka Menin setup Canada’s seventh try of the first half, with Burk eventually finishing a couple minutes before the break. Harvey completed the ha -trick at the halftime whistle, putting Canada ahead 46-0.
Less than a minute into the second half, Alarie sent Canada past the half-century mark, scoring her second on a long, weaving run. Just a few minutes later, replacement Amanda Thronborough continued to pour in the tries for Canada, putting down her first try of the tournament. Tessier was next, intercepting a Hong Kong pass and running half the field for the try.
Two more tries from Harvey sandwiched around a Brittany Waters score put Canada had 79-0.
Hong Kong earned a few spots of possession late in the contest, once driving the ball within five metres of the Canadian line, but that was as close as they would come.
Russell completed her hat trick with a late try, before Thornborough and Harvey each crossed again to finalize the scoreline.
Canada's next two games:
Canada vs. Wales – Aug 13 – 9am PT – Billings Park
Canada vs. New Zealand – Aug 17 – 4am PT – Billings Park