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Canada U20 Best WJAA

  • 04 Aug 2017

 Photo: Atavus Rugby / Carly MacKinnon



On home ground in Ottawa, the Canada U20s defeated the Women’s Junior All-Americans (WJAAs) 45-24 in the first of two Can-Am Series matches. Canada’s age-grade teams are now 2-0 this week, after the U18s defeated the Girls’ High School All-Americans 58-12 on Tuesday.


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The home team struggled to subdue WJAA No. 8 Adi Finau Tamaivena, who was the emblem of power. She was incredibly tough to take down and a major go-forward force for the Americans. She scored the first try for the WJAAs and helped set up the second scoring opportunity with a long breakaway.


The WJAAs also did a good job of finding each other in tight to keep momentum moving forward. Flanker Michel Navarro was especially adept at wriggling her hands free and looking for the offload. She connected with Sui A’au on several occasions for solid gains. A’au was also a brick wall on defense and put in some memorable tackles.


The aforementioned factors helped create the Americans’ first-half tries. Navarro, A’au, Yana Manoa and more did well to keep the ball alive out of contact and recycled quickly. Tamaivena then fought through the defense at Canada’s 20 meter for the try. The No. 8 tore away for what looked like a second try, but Canada wing Alexandra Ondo, who had a great game, flew in to save the day. From the subsequent penalty, however, rising high school senior Emily Henrich pushed past her defender for the score. Flyhalf Bayleigh Gable converted both tries for the Americans’ 14 first-half points.


Canada flyhalf Julia Schell and scrumhalf Taylor Donato executed a better kicking game, and the disciplined chase helped turn midfield battles into scoring opportunities. And then once Canada got close to the USA’s try line, the defense could not stifle the forward pick-and-goes. Some of that had to do with the launch around the ruck, but Canadian forwards like captain McKinley Hunt, who had two tries, Veronica Harrigan, Kassell Menin and Abby Duguid were able to put down dive-over tries when needed.



While the forwards tipped the balance for the Canada U20s, the backs scored a pair of tries as well. The first points of the game went to wing Taejah Thompson, who slotted five conversions, scored the game’s opening try off of No. 8 Gabrielle Senft, who evaded a tackle. And Schell (who also kicked a conversion) dotted down after a sustained pick-and-go campaign at the line, slipping easily past her opposite.


Down 19-14 at the half, Canada scored first after the break, and then the Americans answered back, as Henrich timed a pass to Lilly Durbin inserting from fullback into the gap. Even with 50 meters to go, the Eagle 7s player was too fast for the cover defense, 26-19 to Canada.


But then Canada took over the scoreboard. While the forward assault inside the USA 10 meter was effective, the WJAAs also hurt themselves with not-straight lineouts, a couple of kicking errors, and some turnovers from slowly supported breaks as the game wore on. The WJAAs did end the game on a good note, however, as a Henrich break was followed by a pair of Canadian penalties. A couple of phases after the tap, Durbin drew in two defenders and got the pass off to wing Kaino Ah Quin for the try.


If the WJAAs tighten up and own that tryline defense, then it’s a very even game. The rematch is Monday, Aug. 7 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT. Tune into Rugby Canada’s Facebook feed for the livestream.




Tries: Tamaivena, Henrich, Ah Quin, Durbin

Cons: Gable 2


Canada U20 45

Tries: Hunt 2, Thompson, Harrigan, Menin, Duguid, Schell

Cons: Thompson 4, Schell



1. Kristina Tomelloso
2. Kat Ramage
3. Hannah Lewandowski
4. Milla Anderson (VC)
5. Taylor Makowski
6. Yana Manoa
7. Michel Navarro
8. Adi Finau Tamaivena
9. Maryjane Pasioles
10. Bayleigh Gable
11. Alex Strasser
12. Sui A’au (c)
13. Emily Henrich
14. Kaino Ah Quin
15. Lilly Durbin


16. Jade Garcia
17. Michelle Reyes
18. Annie Rolf
19. Joanna Moreira
20. Caitlin Weigel
21. Olivia Ortiz
22. Becca Jane Rosko
23. Natalie Gray



1. Veronica Harrigan

2. Sarah Cline

3. Kassell Menin

4. McKinley Hunt (c)

5. Abigail Duguid

6. Emilie Nicholl

7. Genevieve Kasa-Vubu

8. Gabrielle Senft

9. Taylor Donato

10. Julia Schell

11. Taejah Thompson

12. Shawna Brayton

13. Jordyn Orlando

14. Alexandra Ondo

15. Niamh Haughey


16. Jennifer Appleby

17. MP Fauteux

18. Sydney De La Mare

19. Harley Tucket

20. Tobi Owotomo

21. Sasha Guedes

22. Christina Branch

23. Mackenzie Pusch



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