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New Zealand Rolls By USA

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New Zealand Rolls By USA

Freda Tafuna was. the lone USA try-scorer. Photo John Cowpland for USA Rugby.

HAMILTON, NZ - The USA Women's Eagles fell to New Zealand with a 57-5 loss in their second 2024 Pacific Four Series match Friday night USA time.

The Eagles managed the lone try from this year's Sorensen Award-winner, Lindenwood flanker Freda Tafuna, but struggled with handling errors and with the pace of New Zealand's play.

The USA made inroads at times, but it was slow-going stuff; multiple phases didn't seem to tax the Black Ferns as much as it did the USA.

"We faced the World Cup Champions and they reinforced that a fast start is so important," said USA Head Coach Sione Fukofuka. "We were able to work into the game after that initial onslaught, but it was too late to influence the result. Our ability to change momentum and build positive actions is a focus for this week coming. Creating pressure by building the phase count and turning our half chances into point scoring opportunities, pressuring the Australia set piece and wide channel possession will go a long way toward next week's result."

Captain Rachel Johnson pointed to a better second half as something to work from when the USA plays Australia next week.

"First of all, I'd like to say thank you to New Zealand. It's a lovely country, thank you for having us here," said the always-gracious Johnson. "We're a building nation. We knew playing the second-best team in the world would be a challenge, and it definitely was a challenge, so kudos to the Black Ferns. I'm really proud of my team today. We're starting to put phases together and starting to show the physical, fast rugby that we want to play. We just need to keep building to put those phases together.

"As we went into the halftime, we started to get momentum. We were playing well off the transition ball. So I think we were just holding on to that momentum and trying to build off of it. We showed that our set piece can be a huge advantage for us on attack and defense. And our work on transition ball showed we can be really lethal when we put those phases together."

The Eagles head to Australia in the morning, where they will prepare for their final match in the 2024 Pacific Four Series. USA v Australia kicks off Friday, May 17, at 2:55 am ET (Thursday night), live on Peacock.

Meanwhile, Canada defeated Australia 33-14 to advance to 2-0 in the Pacific Four. The top three teams in the Pacific Four advance to WXV 1, with the fourth team going to the WXV 2 competition. The USA dropped to 4th last year.

Canada plays New Zealand next Saturday and then Australia and New Zealand play a week later. Thursday's USA vs Australia matchup is clearly, then, a clash for who will take 3rd.

Pacific Four 2024 W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
Canada 2 0 0 83 21 62 2 0 10
New Zealand 1 0 0 57 5 52 1 0 5
Australia 0 1 0 14 33 -19 0 0 0
USA 0 2 0 12 107 -95 0 0 0