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The Women’s Elite division of the Las Vegas International cup final was, like the men’s final, a rematch from pool play. The Maple Leafs, Canada’s developmental side, and Tribe 7s, an Australian side, played for the tournament title. On day one, the Maple Leafs defeated Tribe 27-12. And in the final, it was the Maple Leafs again winning, this time 17-7.
To get to the final, the Maple Leafs defeated Atavus relatively comfortably in the semi-finals, 26-12. Meanwhile, Tribe needed extra time to defeat Scion Sirens, 26-21.
Despite the fact that the first break of the match was by Tribe’s Tiana Penitani, the first half was played almost exclusively in Tribe’s end of the field as the Maple Leafs controlled the match. The Canadian side was able to get into the Tribe 22 in part through a strong run by Pamphinette Biusa.
Demi Hayes, who was a standout on the weekend for Tribe, made a break to move play up to halfway. However, momentum was lost when the Maple Leafs were awarded a scrum, and then won a penalty soon after. From the lineout following the penalty, Nakisa Levale took the ball into the try zone. After a brief conference between the referee and assistants, a penalty try was awarded for a high tackle in the try zone.
Penitani went for another good run and the Maple Leafs were penalized at the breakdown, but the Maple Leafs turned the ball over and regained possession almost immediately after the penalty. Biusa then scored a brilliant try, running over a tackler and sprinting 55 meters to the try zone.
There was no more scoring in the first half, and the half time score was 12-0.
In the second half, when a Maple Leafs’ kick failed to find touch from a penalty, Darcie Morrison had a strong run, helping to set up Demi Hayes who scored Tribe’s only try of the match.
The second half restart was kicked, with the help of the wind, through the dead ball line. The Maple Leafs lost the ball after the free kick, though, giving Tribe their best chance of the match in attack. When Tribe tried to attack wide, support did not arrive quickly enough and Canada won a penalty at the breakdown.
A few moments later, another strong run by Buisa put the Maple Leafs on the front foot. After winning a penalty, Olivia Apps spun her way into the try zone for the final scoring of the match.
“These were two pretty evenly matched teams,” said Maple Leafs coach Sandro Fiorino. “We were persistent on defense and we focused on creating turnovers and tried to score on turnover attack.”
Fiorino complimented the team’s resilience. Because of injuries, “We were down to nine [players] and we had to battle through. This is a young group. The whole team is under the age of 23. They are working hard to get that opportunity [to play on the World Series], to put their hand up.”
Captain Julia Greenshields was happy with the tournament and the final. “Being on the turf is amazing,” said Greenshields, “and with the crowd cheering us on it was awesome. Rugby Canada Women has so much depth, and the Maple Leafs here is evidence. We were gunning for gold.”
It was a comprehensive victory for the Maple Leafs who looked strong in the tournament from start to finish.
Maple Leafs: Olivia Apps, Margaret Banks, Pamphinette Biusa, Emma Chown, Ashley Gordon, Julia Greenshields, Nakisa Levale, Kaili Lukan, Irene Patinos, Erika Scott, Keyara Wardley
Tribe 7s: Jannice Ijdens, Tiarna Molloy, Emma Murphy, Phillipa Tuttiet, Dominique Du Toit, Liz Patu, Demi Hayes, Tiana Penitani, Darcie Morrison, Louise Galvin, Katie Heffernan, Georgia Hannaway, Bodil van Wynbergen, Madi Schuck