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USA Women Battle Through to Semis in Seville

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USA Women Battle Through to Semis in Seville

Kayla Cannet and Naya Tapper connect. Martin Seras Lima photo.

It wasn't pretty but they got the victory.

The USA women defeated Canada to top Pool A in Seville, beating their crossborder rivals 14-7. 

It was a slow, tackle-heavy game as the USA players looked a little sluggish and Canada did, too. Neither wanted to give an inch and the game didn't see a lot of open field play. 

Early in the game a nice charging run through traffic by Kris Thomas set up a another bruising run for Naya Tapper. The all-time-leading USA try-scorer couldn't quite make it to the line for her 100th, but she wisely popped the ball out to Sui A'au, who could not be stopped from short range.

Canada replied with a very well executed short ball for Olivia de Couvreur and it was 7-7 after only three minutes.

But the hits kept coming, knocking balls loose and while the Eagle defense was strong, the connections with the ball weren't quite there. The first half ended with a miscue between Tapper and Spiff Sedrick and that was kind of the story.

In the second half, the connection was a little better with the veteran players coming on, Off a scrum in the Canadian half Kristi Kirshe fended off Chloe Daniels and charged up the middle. It was 14-7 with five minutes to go, but there was no more scoring.

Canada did well to keep the ball but couldn't get out of their own half, and in the end, while it wasn't flashy, it was a victory.

The victory over Canada secured a 3-0 pool record for the Eagles and a clash with Spain in the quarterfinals.

This game, also, was very tight. The USA started brilliantly with Kri Thomas taking the kickoff about five centimeters past the ten-meter line and running in almost untouched for a 5-0 lead.

The Eagles then took a scrum in midfield and ran a nice misdirection play that sent Lauren Doyle to free up Jaz Gray for a try and a 10-0 lead.

But after that the Eagles couldn't quite press their advantage. Spain was repeatedly offside and probably deserved a yellow card at one point for their negative play, but to their credit they got stuck in and didn't miss a lot of tackles.

The half ended with a rare kick through for Gray. She might have had a shot at toeing it ahead and scoring except the former Raleigh Venom player was tackled without the ball. Again, no card. The USA went with a scrum but muffed the attack and the half ended 10-0 when it probably should have been 20-0.

In the second period it was again very slow going, but finally a medium break from Kirshe set up a platform for the ball to go wide to Gray, and that gave the USA some breathing room. Spain was offside on almost every breakdown, but rarely looked dangerous with the ball in hand as the USA defense was stalwart.

So 11 wins in a row, which is a USA women's record. On to the semifinals against mighty Australia Sunday at 9:44AM ET. Evert Australian player is powerful, fast, and fit, and they slammed Russia 41-0. England beat France and will face Ireland in the other semifinal. If the USA can get by Australia, they have to like their chances in the final.