Knowing that Canada enjoy sending the disc deep, France come out on defence with straight up force in the first point. Although both teams end up turning under pressure, France are able to break Canada in the first point after a run through D from Laura Chagneux. She immediately charges to the end zone to receive the huck, making a fantastic catch to get the home crowd roaring.
The French defence continued to rattle the Canadians with Daniela Rodriguez pressuring the handler resets, skimming the disc and sending it wobbling. Michelle Ning dives it to save the fading pass but they go on to lose possession with a shot to the end zone smashed away. France too waste the disc with a long shot but they are able to get a second point on the board, with Sarah Guilemin using her height to break with a high backhand for the score and the French lead 2-0.
But as the French offence starts to get a little messy, the Canadians are able to catch them up.
Canada send up the hucks, as expected, but they are not the prettiest and don’t always fall their way. But it’s enough to rattle the French who decide to respond with a zone.
This was a mistake, as the Canadians’ long game was not reliable. Forcing them to look under without tight man D marks was too easy for Canada’s strong handling who can break and find holes with ease. After they equalise at 4-4, they then start to pull ahead for the first time.
Rodriguez continues to dominate with bigs breaks to open up the field but they lose the disc on fumbles and overthrows. In turn, the French defence gets sleepy and Canada are able to zigzag the disc across the field.
At CAN 6-5 FRA, the French D steps up, forcing a Canada throw away, and they call a time out. However, as play resumes France are unlucky to not score with Tanaëlle Dupas opening up field on the breakside and then storming to the end zone to receive huck rolling in from opposite corner. She makes a huge play but is denied the point by a ground strip.
Canada fail to take advantage and waste possession on multiple occasions. Despite big layout block from Jenna McLeod, they turf immediately on the first throw, and France converts in two passes. France are closing in. FRA 5-6 CAN.
But, again France opts for a straight up force to deter the long throws when in fact they have been generating turns. Something that the Canadians themselves admit to have struggled with on beach:
“We play on grass a lot and used to putting up hucks and people running up to them, its different here you cant just float it out there it will get taken away.”
Consequently this change of tactics allows the Canadians to work it up well with majority of passes going through Ning. With the momentum shifting in Canada’s favour they come out firing after half. Despite the French starting on offence they turn quickly. Canada recycle well before Krystal Dos Santos finishes this score launching herself to snatch the disc from the sand at the last moment to bring the score to CAN 8-5 FRA.
But the French close the gap again. After a clean offence point the tension mounts and their D line make some big play. Again Rodriguez sends the disc wobbling on the handler resets. Upfield the marks are just as tight with Pauline Lemaitre glued to key receiver Allison Short. This pressure forces key handler Ning to throw away and this time they convert to bring them back to touching distance. FRA 7- 8 CAN.
The next point is the most important of the match. As the whistle for the cap blows, Canada turn straight away, fatigue showing. If France score now they tie the game and it goes to sudden death.
But the Canadians turn the French twice, first on a stall out and then with a big bid that makes them fumble the disc. They are determined to bury this game and after successfully converting the point come straight back out on D all fired up. The French feel the pressure, turning on the first throw and the Canadians reel in victory in spectacular style. The disc is jetted towards the end zone for Krystal Dos Santos to track down and again make a huge play to end the game. CAN 10- 7 FRA.
Despite France’s loss, their coach was thrilled with their performance. For her, the difference in the end were technical errors:
“We have long throws like them, breaks like them, but they made less mistakes”
Nevertheless, she also made explained that since it was the final pool game to determine placement for the pre quarters, and no risk of elimination, they didn’t shorten their lines. Having opted not to restrict the squad rotation and still pushing the Canadians in the way they did she is not left, “sure [that] we have a great team after this game. We could beat any team.”
The Canadians too reflected positively on the performance of both teams:
“It was a great example of the level of play at this tournament the equity across the world is really great at this tournament and it shows the level of play that everyone brings at this tournament. We’re coming into every game really aware that its gonna be a hard fun match.”
By Charlie Blair.