Canada Women won the inaugural World Rugby Pacific Four Series title with a second defeat of the USA in a week, beating their hosts 26-13 at Infinity Park.
The Pacific Four Series will be one of the principal qualification tournaments for the new WXV competition and will include Australia and New Zealand from 2022.
Congratulations @RugbyCanada - winners of the inaugural Pacific Four Series 🙌👏 pic.twitter.com/CwwtFmThxD— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) November 6, 2021
However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the first edition consisted of two matches between the North American rivals, and Canada came out on top in both.
It was the USA who struck first on Friday, though, as Rob Cain’s side attempted to level up the series following Monday’s narrow 15-9 loss.
Women’s Eagles captain and number eight Kate Zackary received the ball from an attacking lineout and, having surveyed her options, threw a dummy and squeezed between the attentions of two Canadian defenders to score.
Gabby Cantorna added the conversion to give the USA an early 7-0 lead.
But the hosts would not be in front for long. First, visiting number eight Sophie De Goede converted her own try to level the scores and then her back-row colleague Courtney Holtkamp crossed to put her side in front.
Holtkamp was played into space on the left wing following a lineout on halfway and brushed aside an attempted tackle from the covering McKenzie Hawkins on her way to the try line.
De Goede’s conversion was unsuccessful, but Canada led 12-7 and remarkably less than 10 minutes had been played in Glendale.
The rate of scoring settled down from there as Cantorna narrowed Canada’s advantage with a 28th minute penalty, before the visitors scored their third try of the match through Alex Ellis. De Goede converted to give her side a 19-10 lead at the break.
Cantorna’s second penalty of the night, early in the second half, reduced the arrears for the USA to six points but that was as close as they would get.
Canada were reduced to 14 players with just over a quarter of the match to go when debutant Laetitia Royer was shown a second yellow card.
But, they coped well with the numerical disadvantage and put the seal on victory with 10 minutes remaining when Mastercard Player of the Match Karen Paquin crossed for her second try in as many matches.
De Goede added the conversion to take her personal tally for the night to 11 points and make the final score 26-13.
"We had some things to work on, we wanted to come out hard and flying and we tried to do that,” Canada captain Laura Russell said.
“We’ve still got a ways to go, we’re building right now, but we definitely wanted that fire in the game and we’re proud that we gritted it out and took home the win.”
Both Canada and the USA will now head to Europe for matches against England and Wales, and Ireland and England respectively.
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