2014 Women's Rugby World Cup
Canada stun hosts to reach final
Tom Hamilton at Stade Jean-Bouin
August 13, 2014
Canadian full back Elissa Alarie scored the first try of the game © Getty Images
Magali Harvey's wonder try helped Canada stun hosts France 18-16 and book their place in the 2014 Women's World Cup final where they will play England.
After a tense, deadlocked first 40, the second-half was a wonderful quick-paced affair and Canada came straight out of the blocks with two quick-fire tries. First Elissa Alarie scored for Canada and moments later Harvey ran the length of the field for the try of the tournament, if not the year. France rallied with a score two of their own but it was Canada who held on to book a place in Sunday's final at Stade Jean-Bouin.
It was a game of monstrous physicality with hits flying in with abandon from both sides. Bodies were flung around as the crowd cheered every tackle and broke into spontaneous versions of Les Marseilles. When Sandrine Agricole put France 3-0 ahead, the crowd rose to their feet but they had little to cheer for over the next 20 or so minutes as Canada got a foothold in the match and should have made more of all the time they had on France's line.
Despite France having opportunities to clear their line, they failed to push Canada out of their 22 and eventually Canada made it count when Harvey slotted a penalty awarded for a dangerous tackle which saw Caroline Ladagnous sin-binned. Yet despite their depleted number, France attacked Canada and within the blink of an eye Agricole had booted the hosts back into a three-point lead yet this was levelled out by a penalty from Harvey on the stroke of half-time.
Canada started the second-half with meaningful intensity and the crowd had barely taken to their seats when Alarie sprinted away for the first try of the game. And then came the moment of the match, perhaps the tournament. Camped on their five-metre line Canada won the scrum ahead against the head, put it through hands on their own tryline and Harvey went the length. They could have had another two minutes later when Kelly Russell made a break but she failed to offload with a team-mate on her shoulder.
From there France re-found some urgency and Safi N'Diaye's 67th minute try was greeted with a huge cheer from the Stade Jean-Bouin support. France had further chances to pin back the seven-point deficit and they did just that in the 76th minute when another powerful lineout drive saw them over the line with Asso Koita holding the ball but with just two points in it, Agricole missed the conversion which would have levelled the game.
Earlier, New Zealand made easy work of Wales winning 63-7 in the first game of the day at Stade Jean-Bouin. The Kiwis crossed for 11 tries in total with five coming in the first 40. Shakira Baker grabbed a first-half hat-trick with Selica Winiata and Aroha Savage also scoring. In the second 40 it was more of the same with Winiata grabbing her second alongside tries from Linda Itunu, Honey Hireme, Rawinia Everitt, Amiria Rule and a fourth for Baker.
At Marcoussis, the USA defeated Australia 23-20 with Kimber Rozier's 79th minute penalty proving the difference between the two sides. Australia's Ashleigh Hewson had a chance to level the game with the last kick of the match but her shot failed to find the posts.
South Africa saw off Samoa 25-24 with Zandile Nojoko, Rachelle Geldenhuys and Veroeshka Grain crossing for the victors and Bella Milo grabbing a double for Samoa alongside a score for Merenaite Faitala-Mariner. Spain were also in action and they defeated Kazakhstan 18-5.
Canada celebrate reaching the World Cup final © Getty Images
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Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.