AIG WJAAs finish second at U20 Nations Cup

LONG EATON, England -- The USA Rugby AIG Women’s Junior All-Americans suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the Final of the U20 Nations Cup Sunday, falling to a powerful Canadian side 27-3. Both teams came into the Final after comprehensive victories over South Africa and England, and the expected intensity and physicality certainly lived up to its billing.

In a feisty start, the WJAAs were the first to have to defend and they showed admirable stubbornness repelling repeated Canadian attacks, including outmuscling the team in red’s much vaunted driving maul from a five-meter lineout. The early pressure finally told however, and a penalty on the WJAAs 10 meters out was calmly converted by Canadian fly half Jess Neilson for the first score and a 3-0 lead.

The WJAAs responded immediately and, after some strong forward play, the Canadian backs infringed in midfield for Anne Peterson to level the scores at 3-3 after 15 minutes. The Canadians were now starting to win the contest at the breakdown and after a quick turnover they managed to spread the ball wide for Emily Belchos score. Neilson added the extras, 10-3.

On the stroke of halftime, Captain Bitsy Cairns broke through the Canadian defense and was heading for the try line only to be denied by a late whistle for obstruction. That was the last act of the first half.

The second half started with Canada in the ascendency, and a wayward kick by the WJAAs was exploited by the Canadian backs who looped the ball down the line to Frederique Rajotte to score. Canada then showed their ruthless streak, Neilson converting a penalty for not rolling away. The Canadians were not enjoying it all their own way though, consistently being pushed back in the scrums and regularly infringing in the set piece. The WJAAs showed true grit and determination and kept coming at Les Rouges. The team in red resorted to a tactical kicking game, and off one such long crossfield kick, Rajotte benefitted from a lucky bounce and sailed in under the posts to complete the scoring on the stroke of full time 27-3.

Although falling at the final hurdle, this was a very productive tour for the WJAAs with several players showing significant development and a historic win against England were all positives to take away.

“All the coaches feel for the girls because we know how much it meant to them today,” said Head Coach Danielle Miller. “They’ve become a very close unit and shown what determined and talented athletes they are. USA Rugby’s future is in good shape.”

See WJAA pictures from the U20 Nations Cup on Facebook here.

USA Rugby AIG Women's Junior All-Americans | vs. Canada
1. Dorothy Mittow (Princeton) (Fonua @ 57mins)
2. LauraBen Moore (Brandeis University) (Svatos @ 74mins)
3. Hope Rogers (Penn State University) 
4. Hannah Price (Clemson, University) (Howard @ 35mins)
5. Megan Pinson (Fallbrook High School)
6. Kelsey Harris (Penn State University)
7. Elizabeth Cairns (Penn State University)
8. Jordan Gray (BYU)
9. Cassidy Meyers (Kent High School) (Previte @ 68mins)
10. Anne Peterson (Washington State University)
11. Natalie Kosko (Quinnipiac University)
12. Brianna Troyer (Penn State University) (Heavirland @ 76mins)
13. Meya Bizer (Penn State University)
14. Stephanie Browne (University of Florida) (Wong @ 68mins)
15. Margaret Myles (West Carroll High School)

USA Rugby AIG Women's Junior All-Americans | Reserves
16. Amee Svatos (Pandas Varsity, B.C.)
17. Maxine Fonua (Stanford)
18. Katana Howard (University of Minnesota)
19. Markliann Hoyne (Texas A&M)
20. Nicole Heavirland (Exeter High School)
21. Gabriella Cantorna (State College High School)
22. Miranda Previte (Rutgers University)
23. Stacey Wong (University of California Berkley)

USA Rugby AIG Women's Junior All-Americans | 3
Penalties: Peterson

Canada U20s | 27
Tries: Belchos, Rajotte (2)
Conversions: Neilsen (3)
Penalties: Neilsen (2)