After the rather arid game on Monday (9-15) two much altered teams put on a show to enthral the Glendale crowd.
It started with a flourish, three tries inside eight minutes.
Gabby Cantorna kicked a penalty to the corner. The Canadians may well have expected the regulation catch and drive. Instead, Carly Waters received the ball off the top and fizzed round the corner and over. (7-0)
Local enthusiasm was dowsed as the Maple Leafs put their mark on the game. A careless offside at a kick ahead saw them set up a series of drives that finished right under the posts. (7-7)
A lesson for everyone: both these scores came from penalties that yielded huge yardage.
Even worse for the hosts, a fine handling move by the Leafs allowed Courtney Holtkamp a chance on the far left. One big fend and she was over. (7-12)
You can’t say the game settled down from here; it kept up a fast rate with exciting combinations by hand and foot. But here the hosts were more liable to inaccuracy.
Nearly half an hour gone and Cantorna kicked a penalty to reduce the arrears. (10-12)
But her forwards lost a line-out that let Sophie de Goede, once more quite outstanding, make a devastating break. Alex Ellis of Saracens fame finished the job between the sticks for de Goede to ensure the goal. (10-19)
Just before the break Elizabeth Cairns (USA) was shown a yellow, but when the Canadians drove a scrum, they allowed the move to run into touch. Very careless.
Kat Roche deemed Canada guilty of a collapsed scrum and Cantorna added three points. (13-19) Laetitia Royer, the Maple Leafs lock forward on debut, now saw yellow, but the Eagles made the same error as their opponents, letting a promising move fizzle out into touch.
On the three-quarter mark they came much closer, just losing control of the ball as they went over the line.
It was harum-scarum, exciting for the neutral, but they weren’t many of them on the ground.
A dramatic game grew more improbable as Roche could find no mitigating factors when Royer’s shoulder made contact with a head, although her target was dropping to the ground. She departed the field needing solace.
Despite this setback the Canadians proved their superiority, with Karen Paquin, now replacing Laura Russell as captain, made a dramatic break to the line to put the game beyond reach.
Both Rob Cain and Sandro Fiorino made wholesale changes to their sides for the second instalment of the Pac-4 Series, itself an outrider for the eagerly anticipated WXV.
They were anxious to see as many players as possible placed under the spotlight. The outcome was an exciting game that stood in sharp contrast to Monday’s rather drab offering. Both teams were capable of fine combined movements, but the Canadians had the edge in control and penetration.
World Rugby’s half-time live stream offered a touching tribute to Kathy Flores, very much the godmother of US rugby.
USA: 1. Hope Rogers (Life West Gladiatrix); 2. Saher Hamdan (Life University); 3. Nick James (Sale); 4. Jenny Kronish (Beantown RFC); 5. Kristine Sommer (Gloucester-Hartpury); 6. Elizabeth Cairns (Life West Gladiatrix); 7. Rachel Johnson (Exeter); 8. Kate Zackary (captain, Exeter); 9. Carly Waters (Saracens); 10. Gabby Cantorna (Exeter); 11. Bulou Mataitoga (Berkeley All Blues); 12. Katana Howard (Sale); 13. Alev Kelter (USA Sevens); 14. Ilona Maher (USA Sevens); 15. McKenzie Hawkins (Colorado Gray Wolves)
Bench: 16. Catherine Benson (Sale); 17. Charli Jacoby (Loughborough); 18. Maya Learned (Gloucester-Hartpury); 19. Hallie Taufoou (Colorado Gray Wolves);20. Kathryn Johnson (Twin City Amazons); 21. Olivia Ortiz (Davenport & Chicago North Shore); 22. Amy Talei Bonte (Gloucester-Hartpury); 23. Kayla Canett (USA Sevens)
1. Brittany Kassil (Guelph Redcoats); 2. Laura Russell (captain, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC); 3. Alex Ellis (Barrhaven Scottish/Saracens) ;4. Laetitia Royer* (Lons Section Paloise/ St-Anne-de-Bellevue); 5. Tyson Beukeboom (Cowichan RFC); 6. Courtney Holtkamp (Red Deer Titans); 7. Karen Paquin (Club de Rugby de Quebec/Stade Bordelais) ; 8. Sophie de Goede (Castaway Wanderers RFC/Queen’s University); 9. Justine Pelletier (Stade Bordelais/ Club de rugby de Quebec); 10. Emily Belchos De Goede (Westshore RFC); 11. Paige Farries (Worcester Warriors/Westshore RFC); 12. Nakisa Levale (Abbotsford RFC) ; 13. Marie Thibault (Club de Rugby de Quebec); 14. Sarah-Maude Lachance (Lons Section Paloise/ Club de Rugby de Quebec); 15. Julia Schell* (Guelph Redcoats)
16. Veronica Harrigan (Brantford Harlequins); 17. Mikiela Nelson (UBC Rugby/Capilano Rugby);
18. Emma Taylor (HRFC); 19. DaLeaka Menin (Exeter); 20. Gabrielle Senft (Castaway Wanderers/University of Victoria Vikes); 21. Alexandra Tessier (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC); 22. Brianna Miller (Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC); 23. Renee Gonzalez (Westshore RFC/University of Victoria Vikes)
Referee: Kat Roche (USA)
ARs: Amelia Luciano (USA) and Michael Jones (Can)
TMO: Amanda Cox (USA)
with thanks to rugbyreferee.net