Canada prove too strong for Wales
By Mark Stevens
Canada Women bounced back from their defeat to England by producing a dominant second-half performance to defeat Wales 24-7 in Cardiff.
The prospect of beating the side ranked third in the world was a very real one at half-time for Wales, particularly with Carys Phillips' try putting them ahead at the break.
However, Canada, who had captain and Exeter Chiefs’ prop Olivia DeMerchant sent off in the first-half, rallied powerfully in the second half to score tries through Courtney Holtkamp, DaLeaka Menin, Sabrina Poulin and Pamphinette Buisa, two of which were converted by Alexandra Tessier.
Ahead of kick-off, Ioan Cunningham's side, which included Chiefs winger Caitlin Lewis in their starting line-up, had enjoyed a positive autumn campaign with victories over Japan and South Africa in their opening two matches. And they started this contest at the Arms Park on the front foot, getting the upper hand in the set-piece even if Canada looked the more threatening when the ball was spread to the backs.
Wales managed to milk several scrum penalties in the opening 40 minutes, while their dominance with the maul is what led to their opening score. A host of repeat infringements from Canada in trying to stop Wales' driving line-out saw Tyson Beukeboom sent to the sin-bin, before Phillips crossed from the tail to give Wales the lead.
Elinor Snowsill added the extras and they would carry that lead into the break, with DeMerchant's dismissal just past the half-hour mark for a high tackle on Bethan Lewis only adding fuel to the notion that Wales could be about to claim a mightily impressive victory to end their autumn.
However, the half-time break proved to be where the fortunes changed. Canada came out intent to play with tempo, taking every penalty quickly and running from anywhere on the pitch.
While the accuracy of the final pass that had deserted them in the first-half was still a little off, it wouldn't be long before the pressure told. After Veronica Harrigan had a score chalked off for obstruction shortly after half-time, four tries in a blistering 17-minute spell of running rugby ultimately made the difference.
First, flanker Holtkamp forced her way over from close range on 52 minutes, before Exeter Chiefs prop Menin finished in similar fashion 10 minutes later to give Canada the lead.
Flying wing Poulin stepped her way over a few minutes later, before superlative replacement, and player of the match, Buisa dived over just before the 70-minute mark to settle the contest.
“I’m very impressed with the resiliency our players showed in today’s win,” said Canada head coach Sandro Fiorino. “They overcame a red card and really dictated play in the second half. I’m happy we were able to end this run of fixtures with a positive result.”