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Drama Continues: USA Fall 4 Pts Short of Canada

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Drama Continues: USA Fall 4 Pts Short of Canada

Megan Bonny scored one of three USA tries. (Photo: Bill English)

The USA came very close to upsetting tournament host Canada in the teams’ final game of the day, but the locals held onto a 19-15 victory to top pool C of the Canada Women’s 7s.

The Americans got off to an auspicious start, as Megan Bonny took the kickoff and spun away from a clumped Canada, but a loss-forward in the attempted offload gave the hosts possession in the Eagles’ end. Phases later, the USA ceded a ruck and readied to launch, until Alev Kelter gave the pile a hit, jarring Canada into quicker action. A seam opened up next to the breakdown, and Canada took it. The ball made its way to Canada’s Kelly Russell, who pushed off Kelly Griffin before Bonny took her down. Canada captain Ashley Steacy was there for the pop-off, and USA wing Vix Folayan tackled her just before the try line. But Steacy wasn’t held in the tackle, so she got to her feet for the score, 5-0.

The Americans answered with a try, but not at first. Canada prop Karen Paquin made the first of several thumping runs, but a knock-on awarded a USA scrum deep in its end. The ball came dribbling out and scrumhalf Kelter chased it to the Americans’ tryline. She got it to Folayan just in time, and after a step or two, the sweeper sent an overhead pass to Doyle. A fend and a juke later, Doyle was off to a length-of-the-field try, 5-5.

Approximately three minutes remained in the half, and the final score had everything to do with opportunities realized. The USA was handed possession when Steacy lobbed an errant pass into touch. The lineout got into Folayan’s hands, she cut through the belly to about Canada’s 40 meter, but as the ball came out of the ruck, defensive pressure forced Bui Baravilala to fumble ever so slightly. Canada got the scrum, and the ball moved to Britt Benn, who won the battle against Katie Johnson. Folayan and Baravilala couldn’t swarm quick enough, and Benn hit Ghislaine Landry along the touchline. Doyle had the angle, and the speed, on her, but came in too high for the pursuit tackle. Landry palmed off her chaser for the try and conversion, 12-5 into the break.

Down but not out, the USA wrestled the match into its hands during the third quarter. A minute in, Benn made another break and had one person to beat: Folayan. The sweeper swallowed up the tackle, and Griffin was in quick support. The duo forced Benn to hold onto the ball longer than legal, and a penalty was awarded. Griffin snapped to action and quick-tapped into open space. She didn’t beat the final defender, but the American captain did hit Bonny in support. The prop took it in for the try, which pulled the USA to within two, 12-10.

A minute later and the USA was back in Canada’s 22. The Eagles did a great job keeping the ball alive, working the width and securing their own ball – although there were some tense moments when that third player was late to the breakdown. Near the 10 meter, Johnson sent a long, bouncing pass to Doyle on the sideline. The center appeared to be stalled, as she faced down Landry, but she put on a good step that gave her an extra inch along the sideline, and she scored in the corner. Canada was lucky to escape a yellow card, as Landry went feet first into Doyle’s face as she dotted down the ball.

The USA led 15-12, but as time waned and the teams’ struggled to keep it tight in their third match of the day, Canada found a little extra in the tank. With two minutes left in the match, Paquin made a strong, elusive run along the sideline, tying up would-be tacklers, and finding Landry in support for the try, 19-15 with the conversion.

Akin to their game against Russia, the Eagles kept it interesting until time expired, getting deep into Canada’s end and heaping hope on a Kristen Thomas breakaway. But Paquin managed a frenetic kick from the ground into touch and that was game.

The loss doesn’t really hurt the USA, as the team moves onto tomorrow’s Cup quarterfinal easily. They will play France, which finished second in its pool after a loss to Australia, at 10:22 a.m. PDT.

Check out the USA's two wins against South Africa and Russia.