Canada's national senior women's sevens team has dropped a tough semi-final against England, at the 2012 Hong Kong Sevens. The two teams had faced each other at the initial IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup event, in Dubai, with Canada coming out convincing winners; today, however, would be a different story.
It is one of the great truths of elite sport that you're only as good as your last result, and today Canada were beaten by a enormously physical and clinical England squad. The big addition to the England roster was Women's World Cup flanker, Heather Fisher, who dressed at hooker for her country, in the Semi-Final. Fisher's presence would be influential in this outcome.
Head Coach John Tait had hinted that the Canadians would have to use their speed and passing in order to counter the physicality of their big and powerful opponents, and for a while that seemed to be way the match was playing out.
Despite an early England breakaway try, Canada looked to stretch the England defense, with wide passes to big runners like Mandy Marchak. In one such effort, Marchak took a wide spin pass and raced 40 meters, before being held-up on her feet by multiple England tacklers. Still, Canada looked to play a wide game. A series of well-worked cross-field passes eventually found Jenn Kish on an overlap, and Canada's hooker sprinted into the corner to bring the score even, just before half-time.
Canada were able to regain possession on a scramble, following the restart; however, once again England's power in the contact area was evident. Using all of her back-row experience in the fifteens game, Fisher powered into a Canadian ruck and cleanly emerged with the ball, racing away down-field. A deft offload then allowed England to score under the posts; meaning the English would take a 12 - 5 lead into the break.
That seemed to be a turning point.
When the second-half began, Fisher began to impose herself once more, putting big hits on Canadian players, who tried to gather England's restart kicks. Canada's nerves began to show. The confident wide passes that were leading to opportunities early on were lacking in the second-half, as time and again, passes were dropped or went astray.
England, however, were far more clinical. The English were able to build a 22 - 5 lead, before Canada were finally able to answer through a consolation try by Mandy Marchak.
Coach John Tait had the following words on the today's result:
"We fell off too many tackles in the first-half which put a lot of pressure on ourselves to recover from. There was no lack of effort from the team, but we weren't accurate with our passing or contact skills and a quality side like England makes you pay for that.
We will regroup and continue to refine our skills and look to improve with a strong performance in London."
The victory by England's women means they will advance to the Grand Final of the Hong Kong Sevens to take on Australia, to see who will claim the second leg of the IRB Challenge Cup.
The Semi-Final loss ends a streak of five straight tournament victories for Canada, stretching back to the 2011 USA Sevens. Without question, Canada's women will be keen to examine this performance and return to their training at the Rugby Canada Centre of Excellence, in Langford, B.C. The opportunity of a re-match against England is not far away. Canada's next competition will be at the third and final leg of the IRB women's competition, at the London Sevens, in May.
The National Women's 7's team is proudly sponsored by Macquarie Financial with additional support from Own the Podium.
Andrea Burk - Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
Ashley Steacy - Lethbridge Rugby Club (Lethbridge, AB)
Barbara Mervin - Velox Valkyries (Victoria, BC)
Brittany Waters - Meraloma Athletic Club (Vancouver, BC)
Cheryl Phillips - Toronto Scottish RFC (Toronto, ON)
Ghislaine Landry - Toronto Scottish (Toronto, ON)
Jen Kish - Edmonton Rockers (Edmonton, AB)
Kelsey Willoughby - University of Lethbridge (Lethbridge, AB)
Kayla Moleschi - University of Lethbridge (Williams Lake, BC)
Kelly Russell - Toronto Nomads (Bolton. ON)
Magali Harvey - Club de Rugby de Quebec/ St. F.X. (Quebec City, QC)
Mandy Marchak - Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC / Winnipeg, MN)
Megan Gibbs - Irish Canadian Rugby Club, UWO (Barrie, ON)
Head Coach: John Tait
Assistant Coach: Sandro Fiorino
Manager: Kristy Martin Hale
S & C Coach: Tyler Goodale
Head Athletic Therapist: Kim Oslund
OTP Advisor: Jean-Philippe Lavoie
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