The Black Ferns were too powerful for hosts USA as they scored five tries to notch a second win of the tournament and leapfrog England at the summit of the fledgling table.
Canada had played better in their opening game than perhaps a 35-20 defeat to New Zealand suggested, and led by the impressive Sophie de Goede they got into the winning groove against France.
Next up for the Canadians this Saturday is a meeting with England, who had a bye on Tuesday, while France will have to regroup before taking on the in-form Black Ferns.
France 19-36 Canada
Canada, winners of the last Women’s Rugby Super Series in 2016, recorded their first win of this tournament after running in five tries to seal a bonus-point 36-19 defeat of France.
The Canadians had won their last three matches against France and took the lead when number eight De Goede stepped up to stroke an early penalty between the posts.
It set the tone the for an entertaining opening quarter and the French soon crossed for the game’s first try, as second-row Safi N’Diaye (pictured) powered over from close range.
Fly-half Emma Coudert added the conversion but the lead would last only a few minutes. Canada’s forward pack rumbled towards the line before Tyson Beukeboom stretched out to touch the ball against the base of the post. De Goede’s conversion gave her side a 10-7 advantage.
But with less than 15 minutes on the clock France got their noses back in front thanks to the quick thinking of scrum-half Laure Sansus, who picked up from the base of a scrum on the Canadian 22 and pinned her ears back for the left corner.
As the game settled down following its frenetic start it was Canada, and their powerful forwards, who gained the upper hand and another period of pressure from their pack allowed Janna Slevinsky to stretch over the line. De Goede again converted and her side led 17-12 at the break.
Canada took a firm grip on the contest after half-time as Sabrina Poulin scored in the right corner, following a perfectly weighted pass from captain for the day Elissa Alarie, before the team’s usual leader, Laura Russell, came off the bench to notch a fourth try.
World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year Jessy Trémoulière gave France hope with a fleet-footed finish with a little over 16 minutes remaining.
But despite Canada ending with 14 players, as Ngalula Fuamba was sent to the sin bin in the 71st minute, it was the North Americans who had the final say. Amanda Thornborough capped a fine display with a try on her 29th birthday, that was again converted by the impressive De Goede.
New Zealand 33-0 USA
New Zealand moved above England at the top of the Super Series standings following a routine bonus-point victory against the USA.
The hosts had beaten the Black Ferns only once in their history, at Women’s Rugby World Cup 1991, and did not look like improving on that record once Kendra Cocksedge and Ruahei Demant combined to put Carla Hohepa (pictured) through a gap with less than six minutes on the clock.
It was Hohepa’s second try in as many matches since returning to the test fold, and Cocksedge added the extras to give the Black Ferns a 7-0 lead.
That advantage was extended in the 13th minute when the impressive Pia Tapsell took the ball to the line, helping to create the space for hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate to crash over.
Cocksedge again added the extras, and it was the scrum-half who was the architect of New Zealand’s third try, quick-tapping a penalty on the USA 22 before finding Natahlia Moors in space on the right wing. The Auckland Storm flyer did the rest, finishing well in the right corner to notch her first test try.
Shortly after Cocksedge was unable to add the tough touchline conversion, USA centre Alev Kelter missed an opportunity to get her side on the scoreboard from the kicking tee which meant the hosts went into the break 19-0 down.
The second half played out to a similar script as the first, and the Black Ferns claimed a bonus point within five minutes of the restart as Tapsell burrowed over from close range.
Eloise Blackwell then came up with the ball following a powerful New Zealand lineout drive to notch her second try of this year’s Super Series in the 63rd minute and as both benches emptied, that was the way the score stayed.
“I was pretty happy with the performance today, the score was probably where we wanted it to be,” Black Ferns assistant coach Wesley Clarke said. “To dissect the game we’d probably say we were pretty clinical in the first half but probably got a bit messy by the end.”
Photos: Travis Prior