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Canada’s World Cup dreams dashed with loss to Black Ferns

Bryan Kelly

Canada’s Women’s Rugby World Cup title dreams came to a disappointing end Thursday, as the Canadians fell 48-5 to four-time champion New Zealand at Billings Park.

Needing at least a bonus point to keep their championship hopes alive, Canada was second best throughout the contest, as the Black Ferns, who are ranked second in the World Rugby rankings, took an early lead and held momentum from start to finish. Canada can no longer reach the semifinals and will compete in the fifth-place semifinals Aug. 22.

Canada, is third in the world rankings, hadn’t allowed a try in their first two contests, outscoring their opposition 113-0, but the Black Ferns provided to be a different challenge and the Canadians never found their footing.

A second-half try from Canada’s Jacey Grusnick was all the offence the Canadians could muster.

Kiwi front-rower Aldora Itunu earned a hat-trick, while Selica Winiata, Kelly Brazier, Stacey Waaka, captain Fiao’o Fa’amausili and Renee Wickliffe each scored once for the Black Ferns. Fa’amausili became the Black Ferns most capped player, as she was playing in her 50th test match.

“New Zealand is physically stronger, tactically stronger and technically stronger,” said Canadian head coach Francois Ratier. “When you face a better team, there’s not much else to say. The Black Ferns played better than us and they deserve the victory. Now, we’ll get some fresh blood in the lineup and prepare the future.”

Winiata opened the scoring in the sixth minute and, from there, New Zealand were in control the rest of the way. Itunu put up two of her three tries before the game reached the half-hour mark and the Kiwis were well on their way.

New Zealand held a 29-0 lead at the break, before outscoring Canada 19-5 in the second half. Canada will now await the results of the other games on Day 3 of the WRWC to determine their next opponent. The Canadians earned a silver medal at the last WRWC in 2014.

After New Zealand missed out on the semifinals in 2014, the Black Ferns will now be in a prime position as they topped Pool A with a 3-0 record and a point differential of +196. Canada remains winless all-time against the Black Ferns in 14 outings.

The Canadians also faced New Zealand earlier this year in the opener of the International Women’s Rugby Series, losing 28-16 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Match Report:
Canada held possession and looked strong in the first five minutes of the opening half, but New Zealand struck first, when the speedy Selica Winiata took a pass from Portia Woodman and did the rest of the work, touching down in the sixth minute.

With the Black Ferns on the front foot, they quickly put Canada under pressure with their pack and New Zealand’s Aldora Itunu plunged over twice in five minutes to put the Kiwis ahead 19-0 through 23 minutes.

Itunu was shown a yellow card for a high tackle in the 28th minute, but the Canadians were unable to take advantage. Instead, Stacey Waaka put another try on the board for New Zealand in the 33rd minute.

Just before the halftime whistle, the Black Ferns Kelly Brazier found her way throught the Canadian defence and wheeled around the outside, scoring New Zealand’s fifth try of the opening half. The second half started similarly to the first half, with Canada pushing towards the Kiwi end early, only to have New Zealand respond with a try from captain Fiao’o Fa’amausili.

The Canadians finally got on the board with a fantastic team try that was finished by Jacey Grusnick in the 61st minute. After several nifty offloads, Grusnick took a final pass from Julianne Zussman before running in untouched.

However, only two minutes later, New Zealand came right back, with Renee Wickliffe scoring to put the Kiwis ahead 41-5.

With just over 10 minutes to play, Itunu completed the hat-trick.

Canada’s Roster to Face New Zealand (name, club, hometown):
1. Carolyn McEwen, Burnaby Lake RFC (Vancouver, BC)
2. Laura Russell, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC (Bolton, ON)
3. DaLeaka Menin, Calgary Hornets (Vulcan, AB)
4. Kayla Mack, Saskatoon Wild Oats (Saskatoon, SK)
5. Latoya Blackwood, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Montreal, QC)
6. Jacey Grusnick, Barrhaven Scottish (Alliston, ON)
7. Karen Paquin, Club de Rugby de Quebec/Castaway Wanderers (Quebec City, QC)
8. Kelly Russell, Captain, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC (Bolton, ON)
9. Lori Josephson, Aurora Barbarians (Beaverton, ON)
10. Emily Belchos, Westshore RFC (Innisfil, ON)
11. Julianne Zussman, Castaway Wanderers (Montreal, QC)
12. Amanda Thornborough, Westshore RFC (Brandon, MB)
13. Alex Tessier, Montreal Barbarians (Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QC)
14. Magali Harvey, Club de Rugby de Quebec (Quebec City, QC)
15. Elissa Alarie, Vice Captain, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Trois Rivieres, QC)
16. Jane Kirby, Highland Fergus Rugby Club (Brampton, ON)
17. Brittany Kassil, Guelph Redcoats (Guelph, ON)
18. Olivia DeMerchant, Woodstock Wildmen/Castaway Wanderers (Mapledale, NB)
19. Tyson Beukeboom, Aurora Barbarians/Cowichan RFC (Uxbridge, ON)
20. Barbara Mervin, Westshore RFC (Peterborough, ON)
21. Chelsea Guthrie, Stratchona Druids (Edmonton, AB)
22. Andrea Burk, Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
23. Brittany Waters, Meraloma Athletic Club/Castaway Wanderers (Vancouver, BC)

2017 WRWC Staff:
Francois Ratier- Head Coach
Shaun Allen- Assistant Coach
Gary Dukelow – Assistant Coach
Colette McAuley- Technical Support
Nicole Crowley- Manager
Shannon Houston – Team Doctor
Brad Curry – Physiotherapist
Jamie McCartney – Strength & Conditioning
Nicole Ainsworth- Athletic Therapist
James Kent- Analyst
Bryan Kelly – Media Manager
Meaghan Howat – Director

Canada’s 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup Schedule:
Canada 98 Hong Kong 0 – Billings Park
Canada 15 Wales 0 – Billings Park
Canada 5 New Zealand 48 – Billings Park

Canada Scoring:
Tries: Grusnick (1)
Conversions:
Penalties:

New Zealand Scoring:
Tries: Itunu (3), Winiata (1), Waaka (1), Brazier (1), Fa’amausili (1), Wickliffe (1)
Conversions: Cocksedge (3), Brazier (1)
Penalties:

Scoring Summary:
First Half

Try – Selica Winiata – 6’
Try – Aldora Itunu – 17’
Conversion – Kendra Cocksedge – 18’
Try – Aldora Itunu – 22’
Conversion – Kendra Cocksedge – 23’
Try – Stacey Waaka – 33’
Try – Kelly Brazier – 40’

Second Half
Try – Fiao’o Fa’amausili – 50’
Conversion – Kendra Cocksedge – 51’
Try – Jacey Grusnick – 61’
Try – Renee Wickliffe – 63’
Try – Aldora Itunu – 69’
Conversion – Kelly Brazier – 69’

Yellow Cards
New Zealand – Aldora Itunu (28’), Eloise Blackwell (58’)

About Rugby Canada

Rugby Canada is the national governing body of the sport of rugby union in Canada. Rugby Football has a long history in Canada dating back to its initial appearance in the 1860s. Since 1974, Rugby Canada has been a permanent fixture on the global rugby scene, including trips to each of the eight Men's Rugby World Cups and seven Women’s Rugby World Cups. As a regular on the Men’s and Women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Canada continues to climb the world rankings and challenge the dominant rugby nations in both versions of the game. Canada’s Women’s Rugby Sevens Team also made history in 2016, capturing the first-ever Bronze Medal at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

To support the growth of rugby at the grass-roots level and to ensure there are elite programs for prospering young rugby players to become involved with, Rugby Canada has put an emphasis on developing its junior programs. Our goal is to develop and train competitive teams for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland, the 2018 Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, the 2019 Men’s Rugby World Cup in Japan and 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

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