By Jackie Finlan
Canada and the Netherlands get the opportunity for a rematch, as both women's teams won their semifinals and will contend for the USA Women's International 7s Invitational title tomorrow in Sam Boyd.
If the North American rugby community was unfamiliar with the Netherlands' talent, they became well acquainted after the team's 17-5 win over France. From the outset Kelly Vanharskamp made her presence known, turning the corner on overconfident French defenders and saving a try early on that would have put the Netherlands in a hole.
But it was a team win for sure. At one point, Vanharskamp angled to the corner with ball in hand, squared up against her defender, and without so much as a peak over her shoulder, popped the ball to an on-rushing teammate for the score.
It was very pretty rugby from a team that loves to work the width, and the Canadians will be truly tested to repeat its two-point pool play win against the European 7s champions.
Canada wasn't as precise in its 10-0 win over Spain, but the North Americans got the job done. Ghislaine Landry and Ashley Patzer accounted for the first-half tries. Mandy Marchak put in a good performance as well, duping defenders in the open field with little dummies and carrying them meters down the field if they didn't bite.
"Our gameplan was to keep it out of contact. Spain is very good in the rucks," coach John Tait said. "Every time the Maple Leafs [Canada A] took it in against them during pool play, they turned us over. The girls did their best, but the couple of times they did take it in, Spain took it away."
Tait credited the team for responding to the defensive pressure, moving the ball well, going forward and keeping their feet. Tait estimated that Canada retained about 90% of possession.
That will be the key to Canada's potential success tomorrow in the final against the Netherlands, which will be gunning for some retribution.
"Netherlands plays a really wide game and stretches the defense out, so we'll have to put a lot of pressure on them because they have some strong runners as well," Tait said. "It'll all be about who gets the right bounce and who executes the most."
The women's international final will be broadcast on NBC Universal, but check back for coach and player feedback.