While a USA vs Canada match will always be circled on the calendar for most, Captain Kate Zackary and the USA Women’s Eagles approached today’s Pool B finale like any other game they intended on showing out for.
Despite a 29-14 loss, the USA showed flashes of light in a good territorial battle and some defensive prowess in the second half. An expired time try from Canada to end the game pushed the score line a bit further, but for all intents and purposes the USA held their own with Canada, as they have shown they can do. Line outs were the story of this match, as the USA lost out on some scoring chances and Canada we’re nearly perfect with the line out to rolling maul combination. With pool play now complete, the USA will officially finish 1-2, but qualify for the knockout rounds as one of two top third place finishers and await a quarterfinal opponent. The Ruby World Cup 2021 quarterfinals will take place Oct 29 and 30 with match up and kick off times to be confirmed.
The USA knew they needed to come out quick in this match, well familiar with Canada’s quick pace and style of play. They would do that by turning the opening kickoff into their own possession, winning the ball at the breakdown and finding space for an early drive. Canada would counter however, and show that when the defense is stretched, they can strike fast. The USA had their opportunities in the first half, but Canada owned the possession game. They would strike first with some creative passing at the line for a first try early, and again at the 17th minute. The USA had a few extended possessions, but Canada we’re quick to get the ball out of the breakdown, recycle fast and find the try zone. The offensive highlights for the USA came from Alev Kelter, who answered fast in the 19th minute with a drive up the middle, complete with a quality fend and reach over the line. Kelter’s ball carrying opened up the field the whole match as she would tally 71 meters carried by game’s end.
The USA continued to have challenges at the line out, which was increasingly difficult with Canada’s best attack coming from the same set pieces. Canada would be 14 for 14 on the line out, with three of them resulting in rolling mauls and tries. The USA would go 7 for 11 on line outs, with a few in the Canadian end and worthy of points. With 10 minutes left and fresh substitutions in, Captain Kate Zackary ran quick out of the scrum to bring the ball near the line. She would follow the phases and pick up for a charging try, bringing the USA to within 10 points. A late yellow card on a Canadian drive would otherwise send Zackary to the sideline and allow the team in red the last points in expired time. Canada win their 6th straight over the USA, 29-14.
The Canadian possession had the Eagles on the back foot for most of the game, but the defensive showing was a positive takeaway for the USA. With only 19 missed tackles, the intent and conditioning showed in this third match week. The USA could very well rematch with Canada in the quarterfinal next weekend should England win their final game, a match the USA will be able to go into with a clear understanding for where they need to capitalize and put more points on the board offensively. Late line outs from the Eagles were clean and allowed a maul to gain ground, a momentum the team will look to work on this week and carry into the knockout phase.
POST MATCH QUOTES
HEAD COACH ROB CAIN
On the performance against Canada:
“Much better. I think the quarter-final is going to be a cracker. There is an opportunity for us to play Canada if England does the job today. Everyone could see today that we are more than a 30-minute team. It’s a shame when things don’t go your way; there were a few things in the game that caused us to lose a bit of momentum but I am really proud of the players, they responded really well, and I think everyone can see we will have a good quarter-final.”
USA CAPTAIN KATE ZACKARY
On the match:
"The girls worked especially hard today. You kind of take apart the set-piece of Canada. They've been exceptional in all tournaments so far and I couldn't be more proud of the girls for disrupting a lot of their mauls, getting a lot of scrum penalties and just kind of showing our progress around the area."
What was the main focus for this game:
"How could we shut down their forwards. I think that's Canada's biggest threat. It's obvious out there, you know, they've got a decent backline, but they're forward pack is what they do. So, they go through and it's how you kind of pick them apart. So, going into this game, it was making sure we had all of our eyes dotted, teeth crossed and then how could we go after some of those."