team. So they were three different opponents. "in rFactor 30.05.2019 14:59
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Kelly Russell knows younger sister Laura is never too far behind her on the rugby pitch. And thats good news for Canada. Kelly, who plays No. 8 at the back of the scrum, is captain of the Canadian womens team. Younger sister Laura is a prop, plying her trade at the forwards coal face. "We know each others tendencies on the field so its always great to play with her," said Kelly, who at 27 has two years on her sister. "Shes a hard worker, so anywhere Im around the pitch shes there too. I always know shes got my back." Kelly Russell has 24 more women behind her as Canada gears up for Fridays Womens Rugby World Cup opener against Spain in France. A quiet leader, Russell has the respect of her Canadian crew. "Kellys amazing," said veteran centre Mandy Marchak. "Shes very focused, very strong-minded. She understand what it is to be a part of such a big team and she leads by example. Shes quiet but when she speaks, it speaks volumes. She backs everything she says by how she plays. "Shes very strong on the field -- individually and for the team. Shes a really important part of the team. Kelly and I have been friends for a pretty long time and (shes) somebody I look up to." Marchak and Russell share a moment before each game. "Something I feel I personally have shared with Kelly throughout the years has been the final minutes before running onto the pitch, I turn to Kelly and she gives me this nod," Marchak wrote in a 2012 blog. "I know this nod very well. Its a nod saying were ready, we know what we need to do, lets just go out and do it. "It has actually been the one thing I feel I look forward to, as it calms me and gives me that last ounce of believe." Russell, who also played in the 2010 World Cup as well as two sevens World Cups, sees good things ahead for this Canadian team which she describes as a mix of experience with "want-to-impress" new blood. Originally from Bolton, Ont., Russell is one of about 20 women, all tied into the sevens program, who are centralized in the Victoria area. Other players have moved west to train with them. Part of their regimen involves working with UFC bantamweight Sarah Kaufman at the ZUMA gym in Victoria. Kaufman helps them with condition and grappling -- wrestling takedowns are similar to tackling to rugby. "A real help," said Russell. Canada, which finished fourth in 1998, 2002 and 2006 and a disappointing sixth in 2010, is in a pool with England, Samoa and Spain. The three pool winners and the runner-up with the best record advance to the semifinals. New Zealand has won the last four tournaments, defeating England in the last three finals. The Russell sisters -- including an older sibling -- followed their fathers footsteps into rugby with the Toronto Nomads. Kelly was 14 or 15 when she took up the sport. Now she leads Canada out on rugbys biggest stage. "When I started, it was just about playing rugby and trying it out. And I just loved it right away," she recalled. "So the natural progression was just to keep pursuing higher levels." She got her first cap in 2007 and has 35 going into the World Cup -- no small feat considering womens rugby internationals are few and far between. Named to the 2010 World Cup all-star squad, Russell was named Rugby Canadas Womens Fifteens Player of the Year for 2013. Canada last faced Spain at the 1991 and 2006 World Cups, winning 79-0 and 19-4. "Were expecting Spain to play a lot of rugby (Friday) with a lot of ball in play, fast pace and a lot of running, similar to the style we play and they play with no fear," Canadian coach Francois Ratier said in a statement. "This is the World Cup. And its important for us to set the tone with a big effort against Spain. We need to focus on our game and dont change our style or philosophy because its been working -- just push up the intensity." 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Bell had not been feeling well over the weekend and had been scheduled to see doctors later Monday at the Cleveland Clinic.LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings are a mountain to climb, and the size of the challenge comes home the closer you get. The New York Rangers finally had a first-hand look in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, mounting an early assault before Los Angeles knocked them back to win 3-2 in overtime. Asked to compare the physicality of the well-drilled Kings to the three teams the Rangers have beaten in the playoffs to date, New York coach Alain Vigneault neatly summed up the challenge before the Blueshirts. "Philly was a physical team and they played on the edge," he said. "Pittsburgh played more of a skill game, but they also had quite a few players that played on the edge. Montreal was a real structured team. So they were three different opponents. "This one here is structured. Theyve got skill. Theyre physical. So makes it a pretty big challenge." You can add battle-hardened to that list. In the dog-eat-dog Western Conference, the Kings have come to the final the long way. They have had to run the gauntlet of San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago -- teams that finished 15, 20 and 11 points, respectively, ahead of New York in the regular season. And they did it without home-ice advantage. "Were a team thats just never going to go away," said Los Angeles forward Kyle Clifford. "Doesnt matter what the score is, were going to play our hardest and do what we do best." The Kings, who clawed their way back to dominate the second half of Wednesdays game, have already given the Rangers plenty to chew on. The New Yorkers, nestled in a five-star cubbyhole on the beach, had the day off Thursday to ponder the challenge. "To be able to be away from the game is a good thing, but at the same time I think if you ask every guy on our team, where were at mentally right now is were at the rink still," said forward Derek Stepan. "Guys are evaluating their own games, getting ready to make adjustments and get ourselves ready for Game 2." That comes Saturday, and Vigneault wasted little time challenging his players to up their game this time. "One thing is real evident to me, and it should be to our whole group, is were not going to beat this team if we do not all bring our A game," Vigneault said. "It is that strong of an opponent that were playing against. "We had Hank (goalie Henrik Lundqvist) that brought his A game last night. We had a couple guys. I dont want to name who, I think brought their A game. But our B game wont do it. Were not goingg to win if we bring our B game to the table.dddddddddddd "Theyre one of the best teams Ive seen in a long time. Areas to exploit, they dont jump out at you. Were going to have to be better than we were." Unlike in the Eastern Conference final series against Montreal, where Vigneault and Habs coach Michel Therrien poked and prodded each other verbally, Vigneault has been all business so far in the final. He seems to be staring at the Kings, like a career bank robber pondering how to take down a state-of-the-art safe. The Rangers coach says his team knew going into the series what was needed to win. "Its something that we discussed -- how good the opponent was. And thats a challenge. At this time of the year to win, you got to bring your A game. Thats each and every player. When we played Game 6 against Montreal, each and every player brought his A game. Its not an easy thing to do. But against this opponent, I do believe our expectations are to win, (weve) got to find a way to do it." Vigneault is no strangers to the challenge, having crossed paths with the Kings many times during his years as coach of the Canucks. "They were a good team in the years past," he said. "Theyre a real good team now. Theyve obviously got more experience. They play their game plan to a T and they dont deviate in any shape, way, or form so that makes it real challenging for the opposition." Captain Dustin Brown says part of the secret of the Kings success is their familiarity. "For our team, its just a result of us being together for a long time. I think that goes a longer ways than most people think," he said. "When it gets really hard, really tough, you know the guy next to you very well. You know what hes going to do in those types of situations." Worrying for the Rangers is the fact the Kings, who fell behind 2-0 in the first period only to rally and outshoot New York 20-3 in the third, can be better. Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter acknowledged his team was sluggish following the quick turnaround from the gruelling series with Chicago. "Guys are not machines," he told a media availability at a hotel adjacent to their practice facility. "We can play a lot better," he added. "Its way better when youre not chasing the lead." Sutter did his bit to inject some life into his team, changing up the lines in the first period as soon as he saw some players did not have their legs under them. The Kings also had an off-day Thursday. 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