- Canada triumph 29-25 in Denver after box-office finish
- England coach Graham Smith encouraged with young team's endeavour
Canada Women 28 England Women 25
Photo: Getty Images
England Women fell just short against Canada in their opening game of the 2013 Nations Cup, losing 29-25 at the University of Colorado.
England scored three tries in the searing Denver heat – first through Lydia Thompson, the Fiona Davidson, before Ceri Large went over late on. But it wasn’t quite enough against the Canadians who finished stronger and took the win.
The visitors took an early 3-0 lead through the boot of Megan Goddard but Canada hit back when Elissa Alarie scored the first try of the match after 11 minutes, Andrea Burk adding the conversion for a 7-3 lead. Goddard cut the lead to one with another penalty kick five minutes later.
Thompson then gave Graham Smith’s England side the lead in the 19th minute and Goddard made an impressive touchline conversion, but Canada wasted no time in getting a try of their own from Cheryl Phillips to make it 13-12. A penalty kick and a second try from Alarie sent Canada into half time with a 19-13 lead.
England’s Davidson dived on a loose ball over the line in the 41st minute to make it 19-18 and a one-point game, but Canada hit back with another try after 48 minutes.
The final 20 minutes of the match were mostly spent in Canada’s half as they failed to clear their lines. At 24-18 down, a converted try would have given England the win.
With three minutes remaining, they got it through Large, who converted the try herself. But Canada hit back with two minutes to play, showing their composure by scoring on the next possession through Magali Harvey and taking the 29-25 win.
Acting Head Coach Smith said: “Having only had three days together I was very pleased with the way the squad have come together and developed. All of the six new debutants justified their selection. They have created a spirit in a very short space of time and supported each other on the pitch.
“We came up against a very strong Canadian team that played as well as we have ever seen them play during my time with England – they had a powerful game with impressive offload support play throughout the game.
“I asked the players to go out there today and play without fear, express themselves and above all else give their best, which they achieved. The forwards competed extremely well but we know we have to be more consistent with our physicality and attention to detail when we are looking after the ball.
“At times we showed real flair and pace in the backs and Ceri Large showed a full array of skills, threatening the line and distributing very well. When we built phases and our decision making was accurate we threatened and scored a very good try.
“We have two more tough games in the pool stages with South Africa on Saturday and USA next Wednesday. I am confident again we will be very competitive and work hard to get our first win of the tournament.”
England Women team against Canada:
15 Kay Wilson (Bristol)
14 Julie Hope (Carlisle)
13 Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond)
12 Megan Goddard (Worcester)
11 Lydia Thompson (Worcester)
10 Ceri Large (Worcester, vice-captain)
9 Fiona Davidson (Richmond)
1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
2 Emma Croker (Richmond)
3 Laura Keates (Worcester)
4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond)
5 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
6 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield, captain)
7 Isabelle Noel-Smith (Bristol)
8 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
16 Mercedes Foy (Thurrock)
17 Claire Purdy (Wasps)
18 Justine Lucas (Lichfield)
19 Zoe Saynor (Bristol)
20 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
21 Charlotte Keane (Worcester)
22 Emily Scott (Thurrock)
23 Lauren Cattell (Saracens)