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USA Into Sao Paulo Cup Quarters

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USA Into Sao Paulo Cup Quarters

Jessica Javelet scored two tries against Spain. (Ian Muir photo)

The USA Women have life yet, as their 26-7 win over Spain was enough for the last berth to the Sao Paulo 7s Cup quarterfinals. The Eagles (1-2) finished third in Pool A, and with a points differential of -6, beat out fellow third-best Fiji (-17) for a spot in tomorrow's playoffs.

The first quarter of play stayed between the 22s, with possession changing hands due to penalties and ballhandling errors. The latter became Spain's undoing, as multiple attacks were prematurely stifled with an errant pass.

One such miscue set up a USA scrum near the 50m. Jessica Javelet streaked across the field before connecting with Vix Folayan, who fought through contact to keep the defense swarming. Kristen Thomas came around the weakside of the ruck and legged out her team-leading third try of the tournament. Alev Kelter's conversion made it 7-0.

The next score had a similar beginning. From a midfield scrum, Javelet juggled the outlet pass but stuck with it as she retreated. The defense didn't take advantage, and the flyhalf took off across the field before hitting Thomas. The young center switched back inside with Folayan, who spotted space across the field and raced toward it, successfully. Dotting beneath the posts, Kelter converted for the 14-0 lead into the break.

The second half saw Spain start with the ball deep in its end, and a couple of handling errors kept the teams scrambling. The USA defense looked a little fatigued and a miscue out wide saw Elisabet Martinez break away for the converted try, 14-7.

That was the last of Spain's scoring, although the team was always one clean pass away from a linebreak. Hannah Lopez stripped the ball out of a bottled-up ballcarrier's hands and swung it to Lauren Doyle out wide. She took the space ahead of her, pushed off a couple of tacklers, and hit Javelet back inside just before being pushed into touch. Javelet stretched her legs and faked out her defender to ground beneath the posts. Katie Johnson bagged the conversion, 21-7.

The USA got into a little penalty trouble and banked two yellow cards (Joanne Fa'avesi, dangerous tackle; Kelly Griffin, tackle off the ball) in the final minutes of the game. But the defense held, and Spain once again didn't capitalize.

Spain handed possession back to the USA after a no-look pass awarded a USA scrum at midfield. The ball shipped out to Javelet, who saw a hole and simply took it. She dotted down in the corner for the 26-7.

The win was an important one - not only because the points-for were necessary for a Cup quarterfinal berth but also for confidence. Taking the #8 berth of the Cup quarterfinals, the USA will face #1 New Zealand again. The Black Ferns dismantled France 54-0 in their final game of the day, indicating that the Series leader is enjoying top form. The game starts at 8:00 a.m. ET.

Cup Quarterfinals (All times in Eastern)
8:00 a.m. New Zealand v USA
8:22 a.m. Brazil v France
8:44 a.m. Canada v Russia
9:06 a.m. Australia v England

SAO PAULO STANDINGS - DAY ONE
POOL A W D L PF PA PD TF TA PTS
1 NEW ZEALAND 3 0 0 125 19 106 19 3 9
5 FRANCE 2 0 1 42 73 -31 6 11 7
8 USA 1 0 2 50 56 -6 8 8 5
SPAIN 0 0 3 21 90 -69 3 14 3
 
POOL B W D L PF PA PD TF TA PTS
2 AUSTRALIA 3 0 0 116 14 102 18 2 9
4 BRAZIL 2 0 1 50 68 -18 8 10 7
FIJI 1 0 2 54 71 -17 8 11 5
CHINA 0 0 3 28 95 -67 4 15 3
 
POOL C W D L PF PA PD TF TA PTS
3 CANADA 3 0 0 70 29 41 12 5 9
6 RUSSIA 1 1 1 64 37 27 10 7 6
7 ENGLAND 1 1 1 65 46 19 11 8 6
SOUTH AFRICA 0 0 3 10 97 -87 2 15 3