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Canada dominate up front to dismiss Wales in WXV1

By Ned Lester
Canada celebrate the try. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Canada and Wales made their WXV1 debuts on the second night of action in Wellington, kicking off the double header in the windy city.

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A Sophie de Goede masterclass lifted Canada to the win and will leave Wales with some questions as their set piece was found lacking across the park.

It was de Goede who got the scoring underway in the fourth minute, profiting from clinical breakdown work by the Canadians. The No 8 converted her own try.

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Australia’s Emily Chancellor after the opening game of WXV 1 against England

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Australia’s Emily Chancellor after the opening game of WXV 1 against England

Carys Phillips got Wales on the board just minutes later, finishing the lineout move in the corner. The conversion from the sideline was nailed by Keira Bevan.

Both teams struggled to push the ball beyond either 10-metre line after the early tries, with securing the breakdown deep into phase play a challenge in such a confrontational contest. The ball was rarely spread through the hands but Canada looked the more capable team when there was space to be taken.

A penalty handed Wales their first lead of the game and the scoreboard subsequently became unstuck. Canada unleashed their kicking game and found opportunities through determined chasers. Sara Svoboda finished a Canadian drive and again her captain converted.

The kicks were recognised as a blueprint for territorial gain and were utilised well again for Madison Grant to score just five minutes later.

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It was a match of scoring bursts and in the first half, Canada proved to be more clinical in finishing, especially once in the 22. The Canadians took a slim 21-17 lead into the sheds but would have felt like they deserved a bigger margin.

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Canada doubled down on their expansive ambition to start the second period, again conjuring a sideline break as Alex Tessier’s cross-field kick found the waiting arms of Sarah-Maude Lachance in full stride.

A forward pass a few phases later saw that particular scoring opportunity go begging but up stepped the Canadian scrum, who won their team back the ball.

With momentum on the Canadians’ side, Wales’ defence got to work and were unwilling to surrender with their backs on their own try line. However, with the Canadian scrum dominating and a lack of discipline around the set piece, Wales could only hold out so long as the Canadians got plenty of chances. McKinley Hunt eventually rumbled over from short range.

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Wales were their own worst enemy on attack, being penalised for illegal clearances around the breakdown and crawling when held. The lack of discipline cost the Welsh dearly after some creative and skilful runs pushed play deep into Canada’s half.

Despite the strong play, Wales soon found themselves again defending on their try line and again lost their own scrum.

The defence was spirited and individual efforts stole the ball at times, but without parity at set piece, Wales’ resistance could only slow the growth of Canada’s lead, not deny it.

Five minutes from full-time it was Canada with their backs on the line as Wales finally found a new gear of attacking intensity and hit the defensive line with pace. Canada suffered a taste of their own medicine as it was a cross-field kick that paved the way for a Wales try.

Canada refused to let their opponents have the final say though and Sarah-Maude Lachance crossed in the corner off the back of more set-piece dominance. Fulltime score: 42-22.

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