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USA Rebounds in Dominating Win

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USA Rebounds in Dominating Win

The USA moved the ball this game, and it paid off. (Photo: Bill English)

The Eagles redeemed themselves in a 29-10 win against Australia during the Plate semifinals of the Canada Women’s 7s. The USA will now face Canada, which defeated Fiji 45-0, in the Plate final.

The Americans learned some vital lessons in their Cup quarterfinal loss to France, but those mistakes were not repeated in game five. The USA balanced its time in contact with moving the ball to space, and the Eagles did not nullify opportunities to attack with unforced errors.

The opening minute of play wasn’t necessarily indicative of what was to come, as both sides fumbled with possession a bit. Australia moved the ball to its devastating finisher, Ellia Green, on the sideline, but she was brought down, and Alev Kelter injected her signature power to jar the ball loose. Kelly Griffin was all over it and hit Vix Folayan, who advanced toward two Aussie defenders. As soon as the outside defender, Sharni Williams, took a step inside, Folayan spun the ball to Lauren Doyle on the sideline for the corner try.

The Eagles went right back to work from the restart, and Katie Johnson played a big part. The leggy prop was a great force in the kickoffs all day, whether swallowing up receivers or getting in the air for a steal. On this occasion, she ankle-tapped the Aussie receiver, pinning the ball in good territory. A penalty soon followed, and the tap worked to Megan Bonny, Bui Baravilala, and finally Folayan, who somehow emerged through a thicket of defenders for the try, 10-0.

Australia continued to work the ball, but the USA defense stood tall. Green made another go at the sideline, but Bonny took the perfect angle to take her down.

The half ended with a fantastic team try. Folayan broke away, shaking out of tackles, and popped to Griffin as she went down. Baravilala continued the charge and passed to Kelter, who charged through the middle until the defense closed in. Bonny brought the ball close to Australia’s 22 meter, was tackled, but the ball recycled quickly to Doyle to finish it out along the sideline, 15-0 into the break.

If Australia had any hope of a comeback, it had to begin from the kickoff. Instead, Folayan returned with a stunning individual effort along the touchline, pushing off Green and side-stepping defenders, before quickly building back up to speed to outrace trailers to the try zone. Kelter converted for the 22-0 lead.

With a comfortable lead and only minutes remaining in the match, the USA kept pushing. Working around mid-field, the ball spun out to Johnson, who sent a good skip pass to Bonny on the outside. The prop nearly made it to the corner, but managed to push the ball out of the tackle to Griffin in support. The captain quickly moved the ball back the other way, and Baravilala did well to suck in two defenders and pass the ball out of contact to the on-rushing Irene Gardner, who was also taken down just before the tryline. The reserve scrumhalf popped from the ground as well, right into Folayan’s hands for the try. Baravilala converted for the 29-0 lead.

Australia did make a late surge, as Green scored her ninth try of the tournament, starting from a standstill and out-legging Baravilala and Folayan to the try zone. And Charlotte Caslick made it 10 points for Australia after dummying through the middle and dotting down in the corner, 29-10.

It was a nice rebound for the Americans, who will need to lean on that confidence gained. Canada awaits in the Plate final, and only four points separated the two during their pool play game, the win going to the tournament host.