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Power & Speed Mark Eagles' Opener

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Power & Speed Mark Eagles' Opener

Folayan scored two of the USA's six tries. (Photo: Ian Muir)

The USA Women 7s showed a nice range of ability in the team’s opening 40-5 win over South Africa today. The game marked the Eagles’ opening match of the Canada Women’s 7s, the fourth stop on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.



Pull-away speed was the centerpiece of the first seven minutes, as long-range scores from Vix Folayan (2) and Lauren Doyle accounted for the three first-half tries. South Africa had its speedy weapons, too, and wing Phumeza Gadu proved as much when she answered the USA’s opening score with the team’s lone try.

The difference was defense. When a South African defender collapsed on a USA ballcarrier and left the outside lane open, the Eagles took advantage of the space. When Gadu got a step out wide, a good cover defense halted what could have been a breakaway.

Alev Kelter hit all three conversions to give the USA a 21-5 lead at the break, and she restarted the game with a converted try of her own, shoeless and all. Substitutions were made at this point, as Irene Gardner and Kate Zachary took the pitch, followed by Joanne Fa’avesi and Melissa Fowler.

But it was captain Kelly Griffin who helped set up the next score. The hooker darted around the ruck into open space, bringing her side deep into South African territory before being dragged down. Gardner was at the tackle and moved the ball to a deep-approaching Doyle, who took the ball at full pace and made a few meters. Folayan took a step off of the subsequent breakdown before sending it to Bui Baravilala on the sideline for a one-on-one, which Baravilala won with a big stiff-arm. Baravilala converted her score for the 35-5 lead.

Baravilala was integral to the final score as well. A big tackle in the middle of the pitch, with Fowler there ready to poach the ball, induced a penalty. The quick-tap moved to Fa’avesi, who ramped up to speed quickly and muscled her way in for the 40-5 win.

The lone piece of criticism might be the speed with which breakaways were supported – there were a couple of near-turnovers – but it was a nice, round performance in which to start the tournament. The Eagles face Russia, which lost 26-15 to Canada in its opener, in round two.