Veteran forward Laura Russell, here in action against Australia, and the third-ranked Canadian women’s rugby 15s returned to action for the first time in almost two years, beating the U.S. 15-9 in Denver on Monday. The teams meet again there this Friday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Rugby Canada)

Veteran forward Laura Russell, here in action against Australia, and the third-ranked Canadian women’s rugby 15s returned to action for the first time in almost two years, beating the U.S. 15-9 in Denver on Monday. The teams meet again there this Friday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Rugby Canada)

Canada’s women 15s rugby team returns to action with tight win over U.S.

Canada scores 15-9 victory in first official game in over two years; rematch goes Friday

The Canadian women’s rugby 15’s team came out on top against the U.S. in their first game in over two years, winning 15-9 on Monday in the opener of the World Rugby Pacific Four Series.

It was a tight contest in Denver, with Canada just able to hold on in the final minutes, the ball being turned over twice in the final minute before Canada was able to punt the ball off the field and secure the win.

Canada opened the scoring with a well-worked try, with winger Renee Gonzalez — who plays for Westshore RFC and the University of Victoria and was making her debut, finished strongly in the right corner at 18 minutes, making the score 5-0 to Canada.

The U.S. kicked a penalty to make it 5-3, but Canada scored another try five minutes before the half, Karen Paquin finishing after concerted pressure by Canada. With the conversion, the score was 12-3 at the break.

In the second half the teams traded penalties, with the U.S. cutting Canada’s lead to 12-9 before Victoria native Sophie de Goede kicked a penalty to make the score 15-9. The Canadians came under pressure from the U.S. for long periods of the half, but defended well to preserve the win.

“It’s really great to be on the field again together,” Canadian captain Olivia DeMerchant said in a Rugby Canada release. “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.”

The team plays the U.S. again on Friday in Glendale.

READ MORE: Canadian women’s rugby 15s team returns to action after two-year layoff


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