Women's autumn international: Wales 21-38 Canada

By Nick WebbBBC Wales Sport at Cardiff Arms Park
Women's autumn international: Wales v Canada
Wales (7) 21
Tries: Phillips, Harries, Neumann Cons: Wilkins 3
Canada (10) 38
Tries: Svoboda, Senft, Holtkamp 2, Nelles, Alarie Cons: Harvey, Miller 3

Wales went down 38-21 to fourth-ranked Canada in their final autumn international.

Carys Phillips, Sioned Harries and Lisa Neumann scored Welsh tries, with Robyn Wilkins converting all three.

But Sara Svoboda, Gabby Senft, Courtney Holtkamp (2), Cindy Nelles and Elissa Alarie all crossed for Canada.

The Welsh defence tired in the closing stages as Canada showed their pedigree, with the visitors scoring three tries in the final quarter.

But Wales can reflect on causing Canada more problems than in their 2017 World Cup matches, when Wales failed to score in two games in losing 15-0 and 52-0.

Flanker Svoboda bagged the first try from a driving line-out after 15 minutes, but Wales made the most of their next attack with captain Phillips crashing over from close range after intense pressure, Wilkins converting to give the home side the lead on 20 minutes.

Canada then produced a carbon copy of their first score after 28 minutes as number eight Senft claimed the score in another pile of bodies.

Lisa Neumann scored one of Wales' three tries against Canada
Lisa Neumann scored one of Wales' three tries against Canada

Wales finished the half on the attack, but Harries knocked on after charging down a Canadian clearance, while Neumann was forced into touch at the corner when Wales put some width on their game.

The forwards' dominance of the scoring continued at either end early in the second half, with powerful lock Holtkamp crossing for Canada, Magali Harvey converting for a 17-7 lead, only for Harries to reply in the next attack with Wilkins converting.

Wing Neumann finally got the backs on the try sheet when she pounced on a Canadian defensive error from Wilkins' cross-kick, the fly-half again on target with the conversion to put Wales in front going into the final quarter.

But Canada stepped up a gear with three tries in the final 12 minutes as Holtkamp got her second, fellow lock Nelles extending the lead and attacking full-back Alarie racing clear for a deserved score - replacement scrum-half Brianna Miller converting all three.

Wales next face France in Montpellier on Saturday 2 February in their Six Nations opener.

Wales captain Carys Phillips told BBC Sport Wales: "The first 65 minutes were excellent, coming from the World Cup [two defeats by Canada without scoring], what we've done is a massive achievement.

"We've got that last 20 minutes to work on, but we're definitely going in the right direction looking forward to the Six Nations. The autumn campaign we've put in has been one to remember.

"France is the big one away, they've got massive crowds and they've produced some of the best rugby I've seen in the women's game [beating New Zealand], but it's an opportunity for us to go out there and show what we're about."

Wales women: Lauren Smyth (Ospreys); Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets), Alecs Donovan (Ospreys), Alicia McComish (Dragons), Lisa Neumann (RGC); Robyn Wilkins (Blues), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Dragons), Carys Phillips (capt, Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Manon Johnes (Blues), Bethan Lewis (Dragons), Sioned Harries (Scarlets).

Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Natalia John (Ospreys), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets); Hannah Jones (Scarlets) Jess Kavanagh (RGC).

Canada women: Elissa Alarie; Magali Harvey, Marie Thibault, Alex Tessier, Sabrina Poulin; Taylor Black, Lori Josephson; Veronica Harrigan, Laura Russell (capt), DaLeaka Menin, Cindy Nelles, Courtney Holtkamp, Sara Svoboda, Janna Slevinsky, Gabrielle Senft.

Replacements: Gillian Boag, Brittany Kassil, Olivia DeMerchant, Ngalula Fuamba, Tyson Beukeboom, Brianna Miller, Tausani Levale, Anaïs Holly.

Referee: Rebecca Mahoney (NZ).

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