WJAAs fall to Canada in U20 Nations Cup opener

LONG EATON, England -- The USA Rugby AIG Women’s Junior All-Americans lost the opening game of the U20 Nations Cup against Canada, going down 15-25 at Trent College. The team from the north of the border outscored the young All-Americans three tries to two, but there were plenty of positives to take from the game for the WJAAs.

In a passionate opening half, both sides hammered against stubborn defenses but it was the WJAAs who registered the first points on the scoreboard after 24 minutes from the boot of Meya Bizer, who cooly converted a penalty just to the left of the posts. The penalty had been caused by the pressure of the WJAAs’ scrum, which powered over their opponents to take a ball against the head, forcing the Canadians to infringe.

The lead was short-lived however, as a strong counterattack from a kick caused problems for the WJAAs and the Canadians smartly moved the ball out wide making use of their overlap to winger Paige Farries, who sprinted in from 15 yards. The try was converted by Jess Neilson from out wide. Neilson’s boot was in use again shortly after as the WJAAs were penalized for hands in the scrum. The flyhalf kicked Le Rouge into a 10-3 lead.

The WJAAs reacted strongly and, after several good phases of play, prop Hope Rogers forced her way over the line for a well worked try. Anne Peterson’s conversion knotted the halftime score at 10-10.

The second half started like the first at a frantic pace, and it was the Canadians who came out of the dressing room firing, turning the score fatally in their favor in a strong 20-minute spell. Throwing forward after forward at the WJAA defense, the Canadians pushed hard, forcing a scrum five meters out from the line. Although the WJAAs were starting to gain the ascendancy in the forward battle, a quick eight-man pick and charge led to Nadia Popov crashing over next to the posts. Neilson again added the conversion to give the Canadians a 17-10 lead after 50 minutes.

The Canadians took advantage of this growing momentum and some mistimed WJAA defensive rushing led to a penalty, easily converted by Neilson for a 20-10 lead. The onslaught continued and after a penalty kick to the corner, the Canadian forwards forced their way over from a lineout driving maul, 10-25.

Far from being intimidated, the WJAAs, and the forwards in particular, came back with a ferocity that epitomized the attitude of the WJAA ladies. Forcing turnovers time after time at the scrum caused the Canadian scrum to concede penalties and territory. Scrums against the head were becoming a regular occurrence and after an impressive series of phases and retention of possession the WJAAs created space out wide for Bizer to run in unopposed to cut the deficit to 15-25. Unfortunately, the cohesion in the WJAAs team had come too late and no further points could be added before the final whistle.

“We gave our all today and we’re very proud of the effort of the girls,” said Head Coach Danielle Miller. “This is a great learning experience; we dominated up front and had enough possession to score more points than we did. When you make mistakes and don’t take your chances, at this level, you’ll be punished, and that’s exactly what Canada did today, and we congratulate them for that. We’ll regroup, recover, and we’re all confident there’s plenty more to come from this team.”

The WJAAs face South Africa in their next game Sunday, July 14, at 9:00 A.M. ET. Follow @aarugby on Twitter for updates from the U20 Nations Cup.

USA Rugby AIG Women's Junior All-Americans | vs. Canada
1. Maxine Fonua (Stanford)
2. Danielle Ciocco (Penn State University)
3. Hope Rogers (Penn State University)
4. Hannah Price (Clemson, University)
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)
10. Anne Peterson (Washington State University)
11. Natalie Kosko (Quinnipiac University)
12. Nicole Heavirland (Exeter High School)
13. Brianna Troyer (Penn State University)
14. Margaret Myles (West Carroll High School)
15. Meya Bizer (Penn State University)
16. Markliann Hoyne (Texas A&M)
17. Dorothy Mittow (Princeton)
18. Katana Howard (University of Minnesota)
19. LauraBen Moore (Brandeis University)
20. Chidinma "Chi Chi" Chukwueke (Georgia Tech)
21. Miranda Previte (Rutgers University)
22. Gabriella Cantorna (State College High School)
23. Stacey Wong (University of California Berkley)

Canada Women's U20s
1. Ashley Delaney
2. Charli Mocon
3. Deleaka Menin
4. Jordyn Rowntree
5. Cindy Nelles
6. Daria Keane
7. Katie Svoboda
8. Nadia Popov
9. Lori Josephson
10. Jess Neilson
11. Paige Farries
12. Sara Kaljuvee
13. Breanne Nicholas
14. Frederique Rajotte
15. Emily Belchos
16. Ashley Snider
17. Emily Barber
18. Sara Haring
19. Fedelia Omoghan
20. Lauren McEwen
21. Hannah Darling
22. Nadia Lesco
23. Dani Robb

USA Rugby Women's Junior All-Americans | 15
Tries: Rogers, Bizer
Conversions: Peterson
Penalties: Bizer

Canada | 25
Tries: Ferries, Popov, Barber
Conversions: Neilson (2)
Penalties: Neilson (2)