Canada go into their last round robin match on Tuesday knowing that whatever the outcome against defending champions England, they will face the Red Roses again just days later in the Women’s Nations Cup final.
The Canadians, fresh from beating neighbours and familiar foes USA 35-17 in their last outing, have not scored in their last two encounters with England but will be hoping to break that sequence at Appleby College in Oakville, Ontario.
England have not lost a match in 2011, winning a fifth Six Nations Grand Slam in six seasons and Canada will take confidence from the fact that only a last minute try prevented the Women’s Eagles from upsetting the English on the opening day.
With Canada and England both having two wins from two in this year's competition they cannot be overtaken and so denied a place in the final, leaving South Africa and USA to meet twice in five days in the battle to finish third overall.
Canada’s victory at Chatham-Kent Community Athletic Complex last Friday went some way to avenging their loss to USA in the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 fifth place play-off last September and came as a result of three second half tries.
Two tries by lively flanker Jen Kish helped Canada into a narrow 14-10 lead at half time before Andrea Burk, Ghislaine Landry and Mandy Marchak touched down as once against players with Sevens experience proved the catalyst for victory.
More work to do for England
“I think this match showed the quality work that has been done individually by our athletes, and at our regional training centres around the country,” said Canada coach John Tait. "The USA play a simple game of rugby, but they play it well. They put us under a lot of pressure at the breakdown and that is an area we will have to address for our game versus England in a few days time.”
Canada’s second bonus point victory means they top of the standings with six points, one more than England who proved too strong for South Africa in the other day two match, wing Kat Merchant scoring four of her side’s seven tries in a 46-8 victory.
Merchant opened the scoring with Rowena Burnfield, England’s match-winner against USA, also touching down as England went in leading 21-5 at half time, South Africa’s only points coming from a Zandile Nojoko try after a period of sustained pressure.
Nojoko reduced that with a penalty attempt, but England responded with tries from prop Sophie Hemming, centre Claire Allan and Merchant (3) securing a seventh straight victory for England in 2011.
“This was ultimately a pleasing result after taking some time to break down a determined and brave South African defence. We cut down on unforced errors and showed some extremely good and exciting rugby at times,” said England coach Gary Street who predicts an “exciting game against Canada”.
Wasps prop Claire Purdy, who captained England with regular skipper Katy McLean on the bench, added: “We knew South Africa would challenge our defence and breakdown skills so it was important our communication was effective and we remained focused on our game plan.
“We’ve come away with a number of positives but as always we know there is more work to be done.”
Women's Nations Cup fixtures and results
Tuesday, 2 August
Canada 52-17 South Africa
USA 11-15 England
Friday, 5 August
England 46-8 South Africa
Canada 35-17 USA
Tuesday, 9 August
16:30 - South Africa v USA
18:30 - Canada v England
Saturday, 13 August
14:00 - Third place play-off
16:00 - Final
All times local
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