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France Shuts Out USA in Cup QF

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France Shuts Out USA in Cup QF

Les Bleus were the aggressors in contact. (Photo: Bill English)

The hope for a repeat berth to the Cup final is over, as the USA lost 17-0 to France in the Canada Women’s 7s quarterfinals. The Eagles will now work toward the Plate and take on Australia, which lost a surprise 17-10 quarterfinal to Russia, at 1:06 p.m. PDT.

 

 

France played excellent defense, channeling energy into the breakdown and testing the Eagles. That strategy paid off in a number of ways, the first of which was realized in the opening minute. After receiving a penalty for a high tackle on the kickoff, the USA tried to run it out of its own end. France forced a penalty in the next tackle and quick-tapped through. Joanne Fa’avesi planted a big tackle in the center of the pitch, but head’s up play kept the ball moving wide to Christelle Le Duff on the sideline, 5-0.

When the Eagles spun the ball wide for the first time, good ground was made by Bui Baravilala, Vix Folayan, and Irene Gardner. But inconsistent support – which resulted in a handful of turnovers, and tense moments as the ball was heaved back toward teammates – resulted in a holding-on penalty. Support issues and unforced knock-ons – whether in front of the try zone or during a failed switch – prevented the Eagles from realizing any kind of rhythm with ball in hand, and nearly the entire game was spent in the Americans’ end.

France tacked on another try before the halftime buzzer, as Les Bleus moved the ball to space and put captain Franny Horta into the corner, 10-0.

The second half was a chance for renewal, as Alev Kelter and Katie Johnson took the pitch, and USA coach Ric Suggitt instructed his team to move the ball away from contact, where France was consolidating its power. The second half opened with a France kick into open space, and Lauren Doyle did an excellent job chasing it down, evading a few tacklers, and putting the USA in decent position. From the next ruck, Megan Bonny picked from the base and was penalized. France kicked to touch, and Kate Zachary replaced Bonny.

From that lineout, France moved the ball across the width and looked to score after a missed tackle, but good coverage forced the ballcarrier into touch and a knock-on in the offload. The Eagles were on its five meter with a scrum. Baravilala took the ball across and looked to put Folayan into space. A catchable pass – but not great – resulted in a knock-on in front of the posts.

Kelter did an excellent job from scrumhalf exerting some pressure of her own, and those scrappy efforts relieved that immediate scoring threat. The USA endured a couple of knock-ons, and with more than three minutes remaining, had the opportunity to build something solid. Kelly Griffin quick-tapped through a penalty, and sent the ball to Doyle, who made good ground, opted not to pass to Kristen Thomas outside her, and slow support saw the ball turn over once she hit the ground. Opportunity gone.

The USA seemed determined to take the ball into contact, and it just wasn’t working. The game ended with a final France try, when the Eagles were penalized in the scrum for the second time, and Kelter was later penalized when she tracked down the breakaway. Jen Troncy quick-tapped from five meters out for the converted score, 17-0.

In addition to Australia, tournament host Canada also dropped its Cup quarterfinal - 12-5 to England - and will face Fiji, which lost 26-5 to New Zealand, in the Plate semifinals.