The Canadian women's 7s team is off to a strong start after beating both Brazil and Russia in pool play Friday at the Hong Kong 7s.
Canada is trying to defend the Women's Challenge Cup which they won in Dubai and is up for grabs again here in Hong Kong. This Challenge Cup is the start of what is expected to be a Women's 7s World Series starting next year. Canada has won Hong Kong, Dubai and Las Vegas in the past year and comes in as the top-ranked women's 7s team in the world.
Brazil were coming into the contest with confidence, just having emerged as Champions of the South American (CONSUR) Sevens. However, using all of the pace and power at their disposal, the Canadian women blasted through their opponents, racing out to a 31-0 halftime lead. Jen Kish, Brittany Waters, Ashley Steacy all scored tries while veterans Ghislaine Landry and Mandy Marchak added two each. Canada cruised 45-0.
In the second pool match of the day, Canada faced Russia, and had to really work for their two tries in the opening half - Kish and Marchak doing the honors. Russia managed a score in the second half, but Canada added two more to win 24-5.
Things don't get any easier for Canada as they take on England in the semifinals Saturday morning.
"We executed very well against Brazil and were able to completely control the game by re-gathering all our restarts to them," said Canada Head Coach John Tait. "It was a complete team effort, but I thought our forwards really stood out through their physicality at the breakdowns; causing the Brazilians all sorts of trouble.
"We weren't quite as crisp against Russia, but they defended really well considering how much possession we had compared to them. There was some excellent individual efforts in this game but we will need to execute better as a team moving forward into the semifinals."
Tait said England will be much tougher, and certainly very physical.
"We have more team speed then them and we will need to be sharp with our passing to exploit this advantage, as well as take away as much time and space as possible when they have the ball," Tait said. "They have forwards that match up well physically with ours, but I believe that ours are playing really well together and utilizing each other's strengths in both attack and defence."
Andrea Burk - Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
Ashley Steacy - Lethbridge Rugby Club (Lethbridge, AB)
Barbara Mervin - Velox Valkyries (Victoria, BC)
Brittany Waters - Meraloma Athletic Club (Vancouver, BC)
Cheryl Phillips - Toronto Scottish RFC (Toronto, ON)
Ghislaine Landry - Toronto Scottish (Toronto, ON)
Jen Kish - Edmonton Rockers (Edmonton, AB)
Kayla Moleschi - University of Lethbridge (Williams Lake, BC)
Kelly Russell - Toronto Nomads (Bolton. ON)
Magali Harvey - Club de Rugby de Quebec/ St. F.X. (Quebec City, QC)
Mandy Marchak - Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC / Winnipeg, MN)
Megan Gibbs - Irish Canadian Rugby Club, UWO (Barrie, ON)
Head Coach: John Tait
Assistant Coach: Sandro Fiorino
Manager: Kristy Martin Hale
S & C Coach: Tyler Goodale
Head Athletic Therapist: Kim Oslund
OTP Advisor: Jean-Philippe Lavoie