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Cunningham happy after positive Autumn for Wales

Cunningham happy after positive Autumn for Wales

Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham was pleased with his side’s Autumn campaign despite their year ending in defeat to Canada.

At Cardiff Arms Park, Wales took on third-ranked Canada and despite the visitors playing with 14 players for over half the game, they came out 24-7 winners after a late flurry of tries.

Carys Phillips put Wales ahead at half-time, as the hooker scored from the back of a rolling maul to leave Wales 40 minutes away from a famous victory.

Canada hit back in the second half, but Cunningham was still impressed with his side’s campaign.

He said: “It’s been excellent putting the new structures in place, a new coaching group, spending quality time together as a team, improving from Japan and South Africa, and some great learnings from this game.

“I’m happy with the whole campaign really.”

Olivia DeMerchant was sent off in the 34th minute for a high tackle on Bethan Lewis but Canada responded after the break firstly through Courtney Holtkamp before DeLeaka Menin moved them into the lead.

Sabrina Poulin increased their advantage on 65 minutes before Pamphinette Buisa put the shine on the win four minutes later.

Following the final whistle, Wales captain Siwan Lillicrap said: “Canada are a good outfit, they’re not third in the world for no reason, they come here with fire in their belly and when they had that red card they went to another level.

“We needed to raise it at that point, but I’m immensely proud of the girls and how far we’ve come in just a short space of time.”

Buisa didn’t just come away with the final try of Canada’s campaign she was also awarded player of the match to cap a fantastic return to the 15-a-side set-up.

She said: “That was so much fun! Coming from the sevens side and having my teammates elevating me every step of the way.

“I was just taking my guidance from my teammates, it was awesome.

“It was great to watch and understand what was going on and from there being able to apply pressure where we needed to add that pressure and just show up on the field.”

With the 2021 international season over, Cunningham will now focus on handing out the 25 contracts announced before Wales’ 23-7 win over Japan to open their campaign.