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Eagle Women 4th in Cape Town

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Eagle Women 4th in Cape Town

Photo Mike Lee KLC fotos for World Rugby.

The USA women's 7s team finished 4th at the Cape Town 7s, winning their first game on Day Two but running into a wall against the top Southern Hemisphere teams.

USA vs Great Britain Cup Quarterfinal

USA opened the competition with the first match of the day facing up against a spirited GB side. The USA were called to action defensively as they had to weather the GB offensive storm for multiple phases. The Eagles did well to communicate defensively and even held GB up over the line after multiple phases.

In the Eagles first scrum of the match they showed their class with Naya Tapper outpacing two defenders and opening the scoring. After a penalty by USA, team GB looked to go quickly and rounded a couple of defenders to get their first points on the board and the lead at 7-5.. The second strike play off a scrum demanded patience as the Eagles had to go through multiple phases, going edge-to-edge on three occasions before Kayla Canett crossed over to make it 12-7.

The second half started slowly as ill discipline saw Alex Sedrick get sent off for a breather. Great Britain was able to level the score with a simple scrum play outnumbering the Eagles.

Team GB struggled with the range on their kickoffs which put the USA back on attack on a few occasions. The Eagles looked to run everything, but found themselves stuck in their own 22 for the better part of the half. As the hooter sounded the match looked to surely be concluded in extra time, however Naya Tapper was not having it. A scrum play saw the ball land in the veteran’s hands and she outpaced two defenders to win the match 19-12. 

USA vs Australia,  Cup Semifinal

An opening passage of positive defense by the USA looked like worrying signs for the Australians. The dam wall eventually broke, however, with a well-worked midfield switch poked holes in the resolute Eagle defense.

The defensive display continued as the Australian onslaught was relentless with quick taps off penalties and the Eagles bailed out with an Australian knock. The Eagles attempted running exits from their own five-meter-line, however mistakes started to creep in. The Australians found space next to their Australian ruck and strolled in for their second try and a 14-0 lead. The USA looked to hit back off a scrum after the hooter sounded for halftime, however a fumble by Tapper kept them scoreless. 

The USA looked to hit back in the second half, with a good scrum play sending Sedrick running in an 80-meter try down the middle of the field. But the Australians increased their margin by utilizing edge plays and ran in their third for the afternoon for a 21-5 lead. A few handling errors kept the USA from getting go-forward and building momentum and Australia capitalized, dancing around the defenders to score their fourth converted try.

The Australians sealed off an emphatic win with good continuity and well-timed offloads with a last score on the hooter and a 33-5 victory.

USA vs New Zealand, 3rd-Place Playoff

In the final game of the day for the Eagles their depth at second receiver helped them handle New Zealand's blitz defense. It was a peculiar match in which New Zealand were the first to transgress, conceding a yellow card early in the match. But down to six New Zealand weathered the onslaught and did not concede any points.

Instead, New Zealand scored for the first time after five minutes of play, with Georgia Miller picking off two defenders in the midfield and breaking through. A second for the half was run in after Sullivan was beaten in midfield, and Tapper outpaced and New Zealand led 14-0.

The USA started the second half well, with a regathered kickoff and with NZ conceding a penalty. A quick-tap opportunity was squandered as the Eagles kicked the ball aimlessly downfield, and New Zealand used their numbers to good effect to score again.

A regathered restart by New Zealand applied instant pressure to the Eagles with a breakaway next to the ruck. Ilona Maher chased down the Kiwis, preventing a certain try. A good lineout strike saw Ariana Ramsey dust off her jet shoes and go 70 meters, leaving defenders in her dust. But it was too little too late by the USA. However is was a valiant effort finishing 4th overall and showcasing their collective skillset. 

Reporting and analysis by Hanno van Vuuren