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USA Women Open Olympics With Win

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USA Women Open Olympics With Win

Cheta Emba's counterrucking was key. Martin Seras Lima photo.

The USA Women's 7s team beat China 28-14 in a game where China put them under some pressure, but ultimately put their rivals away.

The USA started poorly. China kept the ball and got an early high-tackle penalty.

China worked the ball to the sideline and while Lauren Doyle's tackle knocked the ball loose, somehow there was no knock-on call from referee Selica Winiata. Instead, China got a lineout, Kristen Thomas stole the throw-in only to have the ball ripped out of her hands. 

China got another high-tackle penalty and ran quickly with some nice quick offloads to go through for the try and a 7-0 lead.

It wasn't smart from the Eagles, but they were also a little unlucky.

The Eagles were back on defense after not getting the restart, but eventually a knock-on forced by aggressive defense gave the USA the ball, and Thomas gathered a loose pass, stepped out of a tackle, and was gone. Nicole Heavirland was good on the conversion and it was 7-7.

The Eagles remained on defense for the rest of the half. Even when they got a turnover a knock-on brought it back. Tired and hot, the USA team was frustrated by China's secure ball-movement. The half ended tied 7-7.

In the second half once again the Eagles failed to get the restart, but defense and counterrucking by Tapper and Cheta Emba got them back on the front foot. After another lineout steal the Eagles sent it wide. Alev Kelter committed a tackler and fed Kristi Kirshe, who was gone for 58 meters and a key try. Kirshe curled in under the posts and Heavirland was only too happy to pop the kick over. 

So that made it 14-7 USA. Once again China won the restart, but the Eagles got the ball back thanks once more to Emba's counterrucking. That gave the Eagles a scrum and from there Kirshe sidestepped out of one tackler and fended off another, blazing her way 80 meters for a try. The only person near her was the ref. It was a brilliant and daring move from Kirshe and much needed. Heavirland kicked the extras and it was 21-7. 

China won the next restart again, and almost were in had their last pass gone to hand. 

From that scrum the ball was a little messy, but Lauren Doyle rescued the loose ball and was off for about 70 meters. She was finally caught, but Kayla Cannet was there to pick up the ball. Cannet converted and it was a rout at 28-7. China scored with time up. They had, of course, won the restart again. But overall this was a good performance by the Eagles.

They were patient on defense and didn't panic. They were daring when they needed to be. But, they have to win restarts to beat teams.

On the battle with China

"It wasn't easy at all, so it just showed us that every team is going to bring it and don't doubt any team," said Ilona Maher. "Every game we play, the next game is the biggest game. I think we have one of the strongest teams America has ever put out. That was a little wake up call we needed, to play when it's time to go. Every team is going to bring it. So I think each game we're going to bring it more and more and you'll see us getting better and better."

Other Round 1 Results:
France 12 Fiji 5
Canada 33 Brazil 0
USA 28 China 14
Australia 48 Japan 0
Great Britain 14 ROC 12
New Zealand 29 Kenya 7

The next game for the USA will be at 5AM Eastern Time Thursday Morning