- England to meet Canada in final as top two seeds
- Tries from Alphonsi, Hunt and Garnett secure victory
England 22 Canada 10
Photo: RFU Archive
England Women beat Canada 22-10 at the Nations Cup and will now play the tournament hosts again in the final on Saturday, kick off 9pm BST, at Appleby College in Ontario.
After England’s 22-10 victory over the hosts last night, both England and Canada banked the top two slots in the round robin international tournament, while the USA and South Africa will now play off for the third and fourth placed rankings also on Saturday.
England secured the victory in a tough and physical clash thanks to tries from substitutes Margaret Alphonsi, Amy Garnett and Natasha Hunt. Lichfield’s Emily Scarratt also kicked two conversions and a penalty.
With Canada also going into the game with two good wins under their belts, England knew they had a battle on their hands and Canada immediately underlined that with only a try saving tackle by full back Danielle Waterman stopping the Canucks from scoring early on.
With eight minutes on the clock Canada then had the opportunity to put three points on the board with a penalty but they couldn’t convert leaving both sides still waiting to break the deadlock.
A solid scrum from England provided the backs with a strong platform to execute a well-timed training move resulting in centre Scarratt creating the go forward and taking the pressure away from the England half.
Canada still continued to make gain line but with a turn over at the line out England were able to move the ball wide and were soon rewarded with a penalty which Scarratt made no mistake in converting.
Canada continued to press hard and retaliated by attacking well through the England midfield. However, scramble defence by England resulted in a further turnover. An elusive dummy from fly half Alice Richardson saw her break from England’s half and into the 22. Quick hands saw Scarratt go just two metres short from the try-line, while the ever present Rochelle Clark almost powered her way over the line but Canada’s defence held firm.
As the game neared the half-way mark Canada took the lead for the first time with a well worked try scored by Cheryl Phillips, but they couldn’t make the conversion leaving the score at 5-3.
From the restart, No.8 Sarah Hunter made a 20-metre break showing some fantastic footwork. Leading by example the captain managed to provide some good secure ball allowing the advancing England backline to push on, but again England were unable to turn the pressure into points, leaving them two points adrift at the break.
Come the second half and England made some substitutions which saw flanker Alphonsi and prop Claire Purdy take the field. England started with intent and chased the kick off which resulted in Alphonsi turning over the ball.
Photo: RFU Archive
Finally England’s patience paid off as they continued to build phases to breakdown Canada’s defence. Worcester's Waterman make a good break which then saw scrum half Hunt touchdown in the corner for her first ever England try on 45 minutes.
England kept the momentum going with some great link play by Hunt, Sarah McKenna and Waterman which led to Alphonsi charging over the line for her second try of the tournament. With Scarratt successful with the boot England took charge with a 15-5 lead.
Canada were by no means down and out though and with 70 minutes on the clock Kayla Mack made a good break down the blind side to cross for the home side’s second try. Again they couldn’t convert leaving the score at 15-10.
With just three minutes left in the game England wrapped up proceedings with another good try which saw hooker Garnett, playing in her 99th game for England, muscle her way over the try-line for the decisive score. With Scarratt once again converting England took the 22-10 victory.
England Head Coach Gary Street said: "This was a very satisfying and rewarding experience against a tough and physical Canada side. Once again, I put pressure on our young team by playing different combinations and experiments but we came through with flying colours.
"Canada played as well as I have seen them since 2006 and their physical and kick orientated game takes time to breakdown. We are now looking forward to the Saturday’s final. We still have plenty of fresh players in the squad so we are relishing the opportunity of playing Canada again."
15 Danielle Waterman (Worcester), 14 Fran Matthews (Richmond), 13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 12 Sarah McKenna (Old Albanians Saints), 11 Claire Allan (Richmond), 10 Alice Richardson (Richmond) VC, 9 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 1 RochelleClark (Worcester), 2 Vicky Fleetwood (Lichfield), 3 Laura Keates (Worcester), 4 RowenaBurnfield (Richmond), 5 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 6 Becky Essex (Richmond), 7 Marlie Packer (Bristol), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) (C).
Replacements: 16 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 17Claire Purdy (Wasps), 18 Jenny Brightmore (Worcester), 19 Maggie Alphonsi (Saracens), 20 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), 21Katy McLean(Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 22 Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
Tries: Hunt, Alphonsi, Garnett
Conversions: Scarratt (2)
Substitutions: Staniford for Matthews (23), Hunt for Allan (32), Alphonsi for Packer, Purdy for Clark (both 40), Brightmore for Burnfield (60).
England Nations Cup fixtures and results
August 2: USA v England KO 11.30pm, WON 15-11
August 5: South Africa v England KO 10.30pm, WON 46-8
August 9: Canada v England KO 11.30pm, WON 22-10August 13: Nations Cup Final, Canada v England, KO 9pm BST