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Canada’s women dominant over Wales in Rugby World Cup

Kelly Russell. Photo by Rugby Canada

Submitted by Bryan Kelly
Canada will play for fifth place at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup (WRWC) after a dominant 52-0 win over Wales in the fifth-place semifinals Tuesday at Queen’s University.

Looking to make a point after missing the World Cup semifinals, Canada was on the front foot from start to finish, scoring eight tries and rolling to a no-doubter. Canada will play Australia in the fifth place match Aug. 26 (9am ET/6am PT). The Australians beat Ireland 36-24 in the other semifinal.

Just eight minutes into the contest, Elissa Alarie scored Canada’s scored her first of two tries in the match and the Canadian contingent were off and running.

Canada carried the run of play the rest of the way, with the try-scoring coming from Brianna Miller, Cindy Nelles, Jacey Grusnick, Karen Paquin and Barbara Mervin to go along with Alarie’s brace. Canada also earned a penalty try.

Miller, who was a late addition to the starting lineup, replacing Lori Joshepson at scrumhalf, put up 10 points on five conversions. Second-rower Latoya Blackwood was named the Women of the Match.

“We needed to come out strong and we did a lot of work on the break down and the girls had something to prove today,” said captain Kelly Russell. “I’m really proud of the way they rallied together after a bit of a disappointment earlier this week. The girls executed great today and our handling and ball security was much better. This is a strong group of women and I’m lucky to be surrounded by them.”

Canada scored 26 points in both halves for an emphatic victory and are now 3-1 in this year’s WRWC. They have shut out their opponents in all three of their victories, including a 15-0 win over Wales in pool play.

The Canadians and Australians met earlier this year in the International Women’s Rugby Series in New Zealand, with Canada earning a 45-5 victory. Canada has been in the fifth-place bracket three times at the World Cup, finishing fifth in 1991 and sixth in both 1994 and 2010.

Canada and Wales have now met four times in the WRWC. Prior to their two contests in this year’s tournament, the sides previously met in 1991, when they played to a 9-9 draw, and in 1994, when Wales edged Canada 11-5. Before Tuesday’s semifinal, all three of their previous meetings were in pool play.

Match Report:

Starting back on the wing, as she did in Canada’s pool play match with Wales, Alarie struck first for Canada, touching down in the eighth minute. A conversion from Miller set Canada up with an early seven-point edge.

Canada doubled its lead with Miller scoring and converting herself just before the half-hour mark. After a Canadian try had been turned over following a review, Canada’s pack overwhelmed the Welsh on a five-metre scrum and Miller jumped on a loose ball in the in-goal area.

A determined Canadian side continued to push their agenda, with Nelles scoring her first ever try with the senior women’s team. With Welsh forward Shona Powell-Hughes in the sin bin, Nelles capped a driving push from the Canadians, touching down from just outside the try line.

With momentum surging, Blackwood kept things rolling with a hard-charging run that sparked the build-up to Canada’s fourth try of the first half. A pair of quick offloads eventually found Alarie, who chipped, chased and touched down just before halftime, giving Canada a 26-0 lead at the break.

Just four minutes into the second half, Grusnick put up Canada’s fifth try of the match when she blocked a Welsh clearing attempt and pounced on the ball inside the in-goal area.

Then, it was Paquin looking like she was back in the sevens game, scoring her first of the afternoon after weaving through the Welsh defence and evading four defenders en route to touching down in the 49th minute.

After yet another powerful push from their pack, Canada was awarded a penalty try in the 57th minute to go ahead 47-0. Mervin scored her first try of this year’s competition in the 73rd minute to wrap up the scoring.

Canada Scoring:

Tries: Alarie, (2), Miller (1), Nelles (1), Grusnick (1), Paquin (1), Mervin (1), Penalty Try (1)
Conversions: Miller (5), Automatic Conversion on Penalty Try (1)

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