The Red Roses made it two wins from two at the Women’s Rugby Super Series after a 19-17 victory over Canada Women in San Diego.
After opening with a 38-5 victory over USA Women in round one, England faced a real physical test against Canada who came into the match off the back of a win over France – who themselves earlier in the day beat world number one ranked New Zealand in round three of the Super Series.
It was a tight opening quarter with no scoring in the first 20 minute, but it was the Canadians who got the first try when a series of pick and drives saw Tyson Beaukeboom go over. Those were the only points of the first 40 minutes encapsulating the tight encounter as Canada led 0-5.
Minutes into the second half, Canada were down to 14 players as Gabby Senft was sent to the sin bin for her off the ball challenge on Amber Reed, but a breakaway saw wing Paige Farries race in from her own half for a second try for the North Americans.
After a driving lineout maul by England was held up, from the resulting five-metre scrum a superb nudge by the forwards in white saw them awarded them a penalty try.
It was two tries in two minutes for the Red Roses as they took the lead for the first time when a slick backs move was worked to Kelly Smith who avoided two tacklers from inside her own half to race away – her second try of the tournament.
Canada responded when they worked the ball to the right wing for Farries to cross for her second, before Abbie Scott was sent to the sin bin for an accumulation of penalties by England.
England though were winning a number of scrum penalties in the second half as their finishers made an impact and put real pressure on the Canada line, which eventually saw Sara Svoboda sent to the bin following a cynical challenge with seven minutes remaining.