May 30th, 2024

Canadian women defeat U.S. handily in Pacific Four Series rugby tournament opener

By The Canadian Press on April 28, 2024.

The fourth-ranked Canadian women’s rugby team kicks off its 2024 schedule against the ninth-ranked U.S. on Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park. Canada's Sophie De Goede (8) is tackled by New Zealand's Kennedy Simon (7) during first half rugby action at the Pacific Four Series in Ottawa on Saturday, July 8, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

CARSON, Calif. – Captain Sophie de Goede scored 18 points, including two tries, as Canada thumped the U.S. 50-7 Sunday in the opening match of Pacific Four Series rugby tournament.

Claire Gallagher scored two tries while Tyson Beukeboom, Laetitia Royer, Maddie Grant and Julia Omokhuale added singles for Canada, which led 17-7 at halftime. De Goede kicked four conversions and Alex Tessier booted one.

Beukeboom, a 33-year-old lock forward from Uxbridge, Ont., earned her 66th cap, to move with one of Canada’s all-time women’s cap leader, the retired Gillian Florence.

Georgie Perris-Redding scored the lone U.S. try. Gabby Cantorna booted a conversion.

The fourth-ranked Canadians have now won nine straight over the ninth-ranked Americans since a 20-18 defeat in the Women’s Rugby Super Series in San Diego in July 2019. Canada improved to 27-19 all-time against the Americans.

“We really had to weather that first half and then pick up the tempo in the second half,” said de Goede. “I’m really proud of the way we did that.”

“We need to start games the way we finish them,” added the 24-year-old from Victoria who plays club rugby in England for Saracens.

Sunday’s match was the opener of a doubleheader at Dignity Health Sport Park, with RFC Los Angeles hosting the defending Major League Rugby champion New England Free Jacks in the nightcap.

Canada now flies Down Under to face No. 5 Australia on May 11 in Sydney before heading to Christchurch to take on No. 2 New Zealand on May 19.

The top three finishers in the Pacific Four Series qualify for the top division of the three-tier WXV tournament, which also features the top three from the Women’s Six Nations in No. 1 England, No. 3 France and No. 10 Ireland. The bottom team in the Pacific Four slots into the WXV second tier.

There is added incentive for the Canadians this year since Vancouver is hosting WXV 1 from Sept. 27 to Oct. 13 with “select games” to be held at B.C. Place Stadium.

Sunday’s outing was for the first for the Canadians since November, when they finished runner-up to No. 1 England at the WXV 1.

The Canada women finished runner-up to New Zealand at last year’s Pacific Four, defeating the U.S. 50-17 in Madrid before coming home to Ottawa where they downed Australia 45-7 and lost 52-21 to New Zealand in front of a Canadian women’s record crowd of 10,092 at TD Place.

The Americans lost all three matches to finish last at the 2023 Pacific Four Series.

But they came into Sunday’s match on the back of a 38-17 win over No. 12 South Africa in a March 30 warm-up match in London that marked Sione Fukofuka’s debut as U.S. coach. Fukofuka previously was an assistant coach with Australia.

Tessier, playing centre, was influential kicking for territory throughout the game while the Canadian defence kept the Americans in check.

Canada went ahead 5-0 in the fifth minute with Gallagher going over in the final phase of an attack that was launched off a rolling maul from a lineout. The Canadians did it again, with Beukeboom scoring off a fast-moving maul four minutes later.

Perris-Redding cut the lead to 10-7 with a converted try in the 18th minute, crashing over after the U.S. pounded away at the Canadian try-line.

Royer added to the Canada lead minutes later, breaking three tackles en route to the try-line. And Grant scored Canada’s fourth try minutes into the second half to make it 24-7.

De Goede carved through the U.S. defence in the 48th and 55th minutes to pad the lead. Gallagher added her second in the 70th taking a pass from Fancy Bermudez in the tackle.

American Bulou Mataitoga was sent to the sin-bin on the play for a professional foul. Gallagher followed her in the 76th minute, paying the price for a string of Canadian penalties.

Omokhuale added a 79th-minute try for Canada.

Sevens captain Olivia Apps was a late change for Canada at scrum half, replacing Justine Pelletier who did not dress. Mahalia Robinson replaced Apps on the bench and saw action late in the game.

The Canadian matchday 23 featured 16 players who are with overseas clubs – 10 from England, four from France and once each from Australia and New Zealand. The U.S. squad featured 15 overseas players.

Canada coach Kevin Rouet had a camp in Barcelona for the European-based players before a four-day session in Langford, B.C., with the full roster before leaving for California.

Rouet, who took over as head coach in March 2022 after serving as an assistant, is 15-7-0 at the Canadian helm with the losses all coming against higher-ranked teams in England (four times), New Zealand (twice) and France.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2024

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