Canada Women kicked off the World Rugby Pacific Four Series with a hard-fought 15-9 defeat of the USA in Glendale.
Playing their first test match since a 52-27 win for Canada two years ago, it was the visitors who started the strongest again at Infinity Park.
Debutant winger Renee Gonzalez opened the scoring for Canada in the 18th minute, as she brushed off an attempted tackle from Sarah Levy to finish in the right corner.
USA fly-half Megan Foster cut the deficit soon after with her first penalty of the evening, but the hosts slipped further behind before the half-time whistle.
Canada were knocking on the hosts’ door for several phases before veteran flanker Karen Paquin found herself in space metres from the line and produced a slick dummy to open up a gap to touch down.
Mastercard Player of the Match Sophie de Goede had been an early replacement for the injured Jenna Slevinsky, and she added the extras to give Canada a 12-3 lead at the break.
A pair of Foster penalties in the opening quarter of the second half cut Canada’s lead to just three points, before De Goede added three points of her own with 20 minutes to go.
Cheered on by a raucous home crowd, the USA put pressure on the Canadian line as time ticked down but were unable to find the score that could have secured victory.
Instead, Canada were able to hold on to seal their third successive win against their North American rivals.
“It’s really great to be on the field again together,” Canada captain Olivia DeMerchant said.
“I think we started strong, we finished strong, the subs came on and they really lit up the field and held their own, so it’s really great to see.”
(Photo: Travis Prior)