England will face Canada in the final of the 2013 Women’s Nations Cup at Infinity Park, Glendale on Saturday after the two sides both dug deep for the results they needed on the penultimate match day at the University of Northern Colorado.
England defeated hosts USA 36-21, while Canada’s big 53-17 win against South Africa proved the difference as the Maple Leafs leap-frogged their North American rivals in the standings.
Entering Wednesday’s matches, Canada needed to beat South Africa and score at least four tries to have any chance of getting to the Nations Cup Final, a feat that looked on the cards from the first few minutes once Sevens regular Magali Harvey had given them an early lead with a burst of speed.
Harvey and Bianca Farella each scored two of the Canadians' nine tries, while another Sevens star Zenay Jordaan grabbed a brace for the tourists.
“We knew the South Africans are very unpredictable and very quick on the turnover,” said Canada's head coach, Francois Ratier. “We made mistakes against the Americans and tried to play too much of a wide game without doing the fundamentals. We did everything we could do today to get to the Final."
Fielding 11 new caps on the tour, England won through against the powerful hosts in impressive fashion, thanks to tries by Emily Scott, Rochelle Clark, captain Sarah Hunter, Emma Croker, Lydia Thompson and Rowena Burnfield.
“This performance was a great example of how to follow and execute a game plan," said acting coach, Graham Smith. "Our focus was not on making the final, but our own performance. Our set-piece and breakdown was excellent and our handling and attacking play was also of the highest order. This was a quality performance and the players played with superb spirit."
Women's Nations Cup fixtures and results
Tuesday, 30 July
Canada 29-25 England
USA 35-22 South Africa
Saturday, 3 August
England 18-17 South Africa
USA 29-17 Canada
Wednesday, 7 August
Canada 53-17 South Africa
USA 21-36 England
Saturday, 10 August
Third place play-off : USA v South Africa (16:00 local time, 22:00 GMT)
Final : Canada v England (18:15 local time, 00:15 GMT)
Matches will be streamed live at usarugby.org/tv