Canada takes down U.S. at Women's Rugby World Cup to set up quarter-final rematch
2nd-seeded Canadians finish atop Pool B; Host New Zealand earns top seed
Canada ran in five tries Sunday to defeat the United States 29-14 for its third straight victory at the Women's Rugby World Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Canadians had already qualified for the quarter-finals and were looking to improve their seeding in the knockout round. A third consecutive bonus-point win — for four tries scored — means Canada finishes atop Pool B and goes into the final eight as the second seed and will meet the seventh-seeded Americans again in next weekend's quarter-finals.
"We just played the game today and we have to replay that next week. So we're going to be ready for that," said Canada coach Kevin Rouet.
"I think the quarter-final's going to be cracker," said U.S. coach Rob Cain.
Host New Zealand (3-0-0) finished as top seed on points difference and will play eighth-seeded Wales.
WATCH | Canadian women defeat U.S. for 3rd straight World Cup victory:
The Canadian forwards continued to show off their driving maul. But this time the backs demonstrated attacking flair with Alex Tessier pulling the strings from fly half. Alysha Corrigan excelled at outside centre.
On the minus side, Canadian handling errors and missed tackles were on display again. And Canada needed some stiff defence in the second half to keep the Americans at bay.
Tessier, Emily Tuttosi, Paige Farries, Olivia DeMerchant and Mikiela Nelson scored tries for Canada, which led 19-7 at the half at Waitakere Stadium. Captain Sophie de Goede kicked two conversions.
Alev Kelter and Kate Zackary scored tries for the U.S. Kelter booted two conversions.
Quarter-final matches set
The top two teams in each of the three pools plus the two best third-place finishers move into the quarter-finals at the 12-country tournament. Other results before the Canada match meant the U.S. was also guaranteed of moving on.
The Americans, who dropped one place to No. 7 in this week's rankings, downed Japan 30-17 after losing 22-10 to Italy.
The top two teams in each of the three pools plus the two best third-place finishers advance to the quarter-finals of the 12-team tournament.
Earlier Saturday, Italy had to work hard to beat Japan 21-8 with an 80th-minute converted try padding the Italian lead. Italy also moves on to the knockout round.
Japan, coached by former Canadian international Lesley McKenzie, does not advance but leaves with kudos for its energetic performance.
Tuttosi, Tessier, Corrigan lead the way for Canada
The Canada-U. S. contest kicked off at 10:15 p.m. ET Saturday (3:15 p.m. Sunday local time).
Canada went ahead in the sixth minute on Tuttosi's sixth try of the tournament, crashing over at the back of the driving maul that has been such a weapon for the Canadians. De Goede helped set up the try, winning a penalty at the breakdown to allow Tessier to kick for the corner and set the stage for the maul off a lineout.
Tessier went over herself in the 15th minute after a linebreak by Corrigan ripped open the U.S. defence. The Americans were penalized at the breakdown and Canada scored off a quick-tap penalty for a converted try and 12-0 lead.
"It was emotional, but super exciting" 🇨🇦<br><br>The <a href="https://twitter.com/Mastercard?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Mastercard</a> Player of the Match is Alysha Corrigan<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RWC2021?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RWC2021</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CANvUSA?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CANvUSA</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/POTM?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#POTM</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Priceless?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Priceless</a> <a href="https://t.co/hIVpqWIVRk">pic.twitter.com/hIVpqWIVRk</a>—@rugbyworldcup
The U.S. answered in the 19th minute with Kelter breaking through two would-be Canadian tacklers to cut the lead to 12-7.
The Americans began to show supremacy in the scrum as the first half wore on but had problems at the lineout.
Farries sliced through the American defence for a 37th-minute try that gave Canada a 19-7 lead with de Goede's conversion.
The Americans came out with purpose in the second half but had little to show for it.
And DeMerchant scored at the back of the maul in the 60th minute to up the lead to 24-7.
The Americans finally got their reward in the 71st minute when Zackary bulled her way over to cut the Canadian advantage to 24-14 with the conversion. Zackary was sent to the sin bin in the 80th minute for a deliberate knock-on with Nelson scoring a late try in the dying seconds.
Rouet made six changes to his starting 15, highlighted by Justine Pelletier coming in for the injured Brianna Miller and Tessier shifting from centre to fly half.
Miller suffered internal injuries in the win over Italy and has been ruled out for the rest of the competition along with fly half Taylor Perry and front-row forward Laura Russell (upper body), who were injured on the eve of the tournament.
Canada has won six straight over the U.S. since 2019, most recently 36-5 at the World Rugby Pacific Four Series in June.