Canada’s senior women’s 15s marked their final warm-up test match on home soil before the Rugby World Cup with a 31-3 win over Wales at the Wanderers Grounds on Saturday.
Tries from Paige Farries (2), Fabiola Forteza, Maddy Grant and Justine Pelletier — as well as a string of successful conversions from a combination of Brianna Miller and captain Sophie de Goede — were enough to seal the victory.
“I think the girls reacted well,” said Canada’s senior women’s 15s head coach Kevin Rouet after the match.
“I think the first 10 minutes could have been worse. It was a bad 10 minutes but they came back into the game slowly and were patient, built momentum and it was great to see that.”
In starting the match, Elissa Alarie earned her 40th cap for the national 15s team at fullback, while Alexandra Tessier received her 35th at centre and Miller scored her 30th at scrum half. Having entered the field as second-half substitutes, Laura Russell got her 53rd cap — pulling level with her sister, Kelly, as the third most-capped Canadian woman of all time — while Pelletier earned her 10th.
Olivia DeMerchant and Emma Taylor, who both call Halifax home, also played in the fixture with the former named in the starting lineup and the latter coming on from the bench in the second half.
Saturday’s match began with early pressure from No. 9-ranked Wales which resulted in a penalty conversion from fly half Elinor Snowsill to give them the lead within nine minutes.
No. 4-ranked Canada soon found a foothold in the game, though, led by their dominant pack. In fact, the game’s first try was scored when the hosts opted for a scrum on the five-metre line following a penalty and the ball was swung out to Farries who went over. Miller hit the conversion to make it 7-3.
Momentum was with the Canadians and they made it count when Forteza crossed the line for their second try 23 minutes in as they tightened their grip on the first-half proceedings. A further try saw Grant receive the ball in space on the right wing and outpace the Welsh defence to touch down as Canada went into the break leading 17-3.
In the second half, the home side continued to delight a passionate Nova Scotia crowd as Farries scored her second try of the game within three minutes of the restart. Miller was successful with the conversion to extend the score to 24-3.
Fresh from entering the pitch as a substitute, Pelletier marked her 10th appearance in a Canada jersey by scoring her team’s fifth try in the 66th minute. The scrum half received the ball no more than a few yards out and spun a Welsh defender to successfully go over before de Goede split the posts with the conversion.
That represented the match’s final points scored as Canada completed a convincing victory over their opponents. Next up is the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
“It was awesome,” said Emma Taylor after playing a senior international test match within a couple of hours of her hometown of Scotsburn, N.S.
“We started a little slow but the crowd was amazing. When I ran onto the field I could just hear people getting to their feet so it was really exciting for me personally. I think the girls were floored by the amount of support here. It was an awesome win, a really good team win.”
“It was great to be in front of a home crowd,” added Olivia DeMerchant. “It’s always really good to have Canadian rugby fans pumping us up so I love it.”
The Canadian Press