May 27th, 2024

Canadian women defeat Australia 33-14 in Pacific Four Series rugby play Down Under

By The Canadian Press on May 11, 2024.

SYDNEY, Australia – Front-rowers Sara Cline and McKinley Hunt scored two tries apiece to help Canada to a 33-14 win over Australia in Pacific Four Series play Saturday, a victory that moved the Canadian women up one spot to No. 3 in the World Rugby rankings.

The fifth-ranked Wallaroos had no answer for Canada’s driving maul with prop DaLeaka Menin also scoring a try at Allianz Stadium.

Following a 50-7 romp over the 10th-ranked United States on April 28 in Carson, Calif., in the tournament opener, Saturday’s win clinched Canada’s berth in the elite division of the WXV competition that Vancouver is hosting Sept. 27 to Oct. 13.

No. 2 New Zealand thumped the U.S. 57-5 on Friday in Hamilton.

Canada wraps up its tournament against the world champion Black Ferns on May 19 in Christchurch in a match that will decide the winner of the four-team Pacific Four Series.

The top three teams advance to WXV 1, the top division of the three-tier annual tournament. The WXV 1 will also feature No. 1 England, No. 4 France and No 9 Ireland, the top three sides from the recent Women’s Six Nations Championship.

Saturday’s win moved the Canadian women past France in the rankings.

Canada captain Sophie de Goede kicked four conversions.

Hooker Tania Naden scored a try for Australia, which was also awarded a penalty try. Arabella McKenzie added a conversion.

Second-row forward Tyson Beukeboom started to earn her 67th cap, tying her with Rugby Canada Hall of Famer Gillian Florence for most by a Canadian woman. Centre Alex Tessier earned her 50th cap, becoming just the eighth Canadian woman to reach the milestone.

The Canadian driving maul did much of the damage Saturday, with Cline scoring her first international tries.

“If you give our forwards space around the breakdown, they are going to take it,” said Canada coach Kevin Rouet. “I am very proud of our maul and scrumming ability in Canada. It is important for us to showcase that against any of our opponents.

“I am very happy with how our whole team played today.”

Tries by Cline and Hunt gave Canada a 12-0 early lead before the Wallaroos cut the lead to 12-7 in the 20th minute. The Canadians led 19-7 at the break after Cline’s second try, once again from the back of the maul.

Hunt’s second try added to the lead early in the second half. But the Canadian momentum stalled in the 47th minute, with Australia awarded a penalty try and Canada’s Maddie Grant sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.

The Canadians defended well, however, and Menin’s converted try upped the lead to 33-14.

Julia Schell and de Goede came close to scoring in the dying minutes but were held up by Australian tacklers.

“Our backs played well today too,” said de Goede. “They set up the forwards in areas of the pitch to go ahead and score. It was a full team effort today.”

Edmonton’s Cline made her international debut in a 45-7 win over Australia at last July’s Pacific Four Series. She plays her club rugby in Australia for the Western Force.

The Canadians had won each of their previous five meetings with the Wallaroos by an aggregate score of 35-7.

“Definitely glimpses of what we can do out there,” Australia winger Maya Stewart said. “You guys have seen tonight what we can do and there’s more in the tank, so stick with us.”

Canada was runner-up at last year’s Pacific Four tournament, defeating the U.S. 50-7 in Madrid before coming home to Ottawa where it 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.

Saturday’s Canada-Australia match was the first meeting of the two countries on Australian soil. Three of the five previous meeting were played in New Zealand with the others in Northern Ireland and Ottawa.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2024.

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