Bryan Kelly, Rugby Canada
Canada’s women’s sevens team finished in third place at the HSBC USA Sevens after beating hosts USA 31-7 in the bronze final Saturday evening at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. With the result, Canada earned 16 points in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series standings where they remain in third place.
New Zealand gained another 20 points in Las Vegas with their second tournament win of the season as they continue to lead the series standings with 56 points. Australia stay in second place on 50 points after losing to New Zealand in the cup final, while Canada now have 46 points and a 10-point cushion on fourth place Fiji.
Canada advanced to the USA Sevens cup semifinals after an impressive 33-0 win over France early Saturday morning but was eliminated from cup contention with a 26-19 loss to Australia in the semifinals. It was the second straight tournament the teams met in the cup semifinals after Canada beat Australia last month before winning capturing the Sydney Sevens.
After finishing in sixth place to open the season in Dubai, Canada has finished first and third in the last two events. The quarterfinal win over France was Canada’s seventh-straight win on the series, their longest win streak in HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series history.
Canadian captain Ghislaine Landry finsihed the tournament first in scoring with 66 points. Landry moved into first place all-time in HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series scoring with 706 points while also moving into first in series scoring this season with 131 points. 18-year-old Caroline Crossley picked up her first ever series try.
What head coach John Tait said:
“Pretty pleased overall, we played some really good rugby. We just made a few too many mistakes against Australia and they showed their class and why they are gold medal Olympic champions. They punish you for errors. We kind of gifted them a couple soft ones early on. I was really pleased with the way they came back and responded with a really good performance against the USA.”
“Ghislaine has really matured. A great leader, really a complete player. Her defence has improved this year and her vision is as good as anybody on this circuit. She can kick, run pass and she’s got the gas to go with it. She’s got all the tools.”
“We really want to target a better performance in our home tournament. That’s what we’ll be looking for. This year is all about building depth. If we end up finishing first (in the series) that would be great but we’re really going to concentrate on performing in Japan and build a little momentum into our tournament to make sure we get a better result than we have the last couple years.”
What captain Ghislaine Landry said:
“Every game except for our semifinal was a really good team performance. That was on point across the board. We are just looking to put six games together and we fell off one and it cost us that.”
“It’s on the side. I’m not paying attention to that kind of stuff, just looking to do my job and do it well.”
“We’re looking to win gold. We were looking to do it here. It’s such a competitive series, you make too many mistakes in the semifinals and it cost us.”
CANADA 33-0 FRANCE
Captain Ghislaine Landry picked up 18 points and four different Canadian players scored tries as Canada defeated France 33-0 in dominating fashion. After coming away with a 21-7 win over France in pool play on Friday, Canada made the right adjustments, exploiting a young French side on both offence and defence.
Landry scored her first of two tries in the fourth minute, moving ahead of Portia Woodman into first place all-time in series scoring, to give Canada an early 7-0 lead. Kayla Moleschi then intercepted the ball at the back of the scrum, running in for the unassisted try and Canada led by 14 points heading into the break.
The second half was much of the same with the Canadians continuing a strong defensive front while capitalizing on French turnovers and penalties. Britt Benn scored a try on a great offload from Bianca Farella while Landry picked up her second converted try of the match to move into first in series scoring this season with 108 points.
Caroline Crossley capped off the team effort with her first ever series try.
CANADA 19-26 AUSTRALIA
It was a bit of redemption for the Olympic gold medalists who were eliminated in the cup semifinals last month by the Canadians in front of their home crowd at the Sydney Sevens. Australia scored first and scored often, becoming the first team to put more than two tries on the Canadian defence this weekend.
Ellia Green and Emma Tonegato both grabbed a brace for Australia. Britt Benn continued her strong tournament on attack, picking up her fifth try of the tournament.
Ghislaine Landry also continued to pile up the points, adding another seven to her all-time series lead. Her 50 points through the cup semifinals were the most of any player this weekend. Caroline Crossley also grabbed her second try in as many matches for Canada.
CANADA 31-7 USA
After dropping their cup semifinal to Australia, Canada bounced back with a 31-7 victory over hosts USA to capture the bronze medal in Las Vegas. Canada scored first and last and never felt threatened in a match they dominated.
Ghislaine Landry had a brace within five minutes and Natasha Watcham-Roy added another first half try as Canada led 21-7 at halftime. Britt Benn scored her sixth try of the tournament while Hannah Darling added a last minute score.
It was the fifth time in six matches this week Canada held their opponents to less than one try.
Canada’s Las Vegas Sevens Roster (Name, club, hometown):
Britt Benn – Guelph Redcoats (Napanee, ON)
Caroline Crossley – Castaway Wanderers (Victoria, BC)
Hannah Darling – Peterborough Pagans (Warsaw, ON)
Bianca Farella – Town of Mont Royal (Montreal, QC)
Sara Kaljuvee – Toronto Scottish (Ajax, ON)
Jen Kish – Edmonton Rockers (Edmonton, AB)
Ghislaine Landry (captain) – Toronto Scottish (Toronto, ON)
Megan Lukan – Unattached (Barrie, ON)
Kayla Moleschi – Williams Lake Rustlers (Williams Lake, BC)
Breanne Nicholas – London St. Georges (Blenheim, ON)
Natasha Watcham-Roy – Hull Volant (Gatineau, QC)
Charity Williams – Markham Irish (Toronto, ON)
Meaghan Howat – Manager
John Tait – Head Coach
Sandro Fiorino – Assistant Coach
Morgan Williams – Assistant Coach
Canada’s Las Vegas Sevens Day 1 Schedule (Friday, March 3rd):
Canada 34-7 Russia
Canada 38-7 Argentina
Canada 21-7 France
Canada’s Las Vegas Sevens Day 2 Schedule (Saturday, March 4th):
Canada 33-0 France
Canada 19-26 Australia
Canada 31-7 USA