February 3, 2017
Eagles Women Move to Sydney 7s Quarterfinals
The Eagles Women’s Sevens opened up the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Sydney Sevens with a 19-10 loss to Russia, who would go undefeated to win the pool. The Eagles then beat England 22-14 and carried momentum into their final pool play match against Spain. It was a must win against Spain for them to move into the Cup quarterfinals and they did not disappoint, emerging with a 20-5 victory to finish second in their pool.
As a result, they will play Ireland in the Cup Quarterfinals at 6:22pm ET on Friday, February 3. On day two, a number of matches will be played at Kippax Field while the men’s tournament is in session and may not be broadcast. That is disappointing for for the teams and the viewers for an international sevens series stop. The matches that will be broadcast from Allianz Stadium may be seen live via The Rugby Channel.
USA v Spain
Entering their final pool match, the Eagles confidence was high, as they defeated England in the previous match. England would go on to lose a second pool match to Russia, their first time ever that this has happened. With France beating Papua New Guinea, England was also faced with playing for the Challenge Trophy bracket, another first.
The USA got out of the blocks fast against Spain as Alev Kelter took a tap from a penalty off the opening restart. Naya Tapper powered her way forward and the ball was then spun wide. Kristen Thomas then found space and outraced the defenders for a try for a 5-0 lead.
Unfortunately on the next USA possession Thomas was injured at the breakdown and would need a replacement. It is hoped that the injury is minor.
Prior to a substitution being made, Spain advanced into USA territory after penalties and Cheta Emba was sent to the bin. As a result, Iera Echebarria found a gap and knotted the match at 5 all. That was the way it would end at halftime.
At halftime, the World Rugby Sevens blog indicated that Richie Walker gave a spirited halftime speech. He was quoted saying “We’ve got to get these things right form the warmup and put them straight back on the field.”
To begin the second half, Walker inserted Eagles XV captain Hope Rogers into the match, thus earning her first test cap as an Eagles 7s player. Rogers quickly showed what a physical dimension that she can bring to sevens as she proved difficult to stop and provided highlight video material. She was slowed going to a knee and got to her feet quickly and reclaimed the all. She then powered through multiple defenders before offloading the ball to Nicole Heavirland. Nicole drew in a defender and offloaded to Joanne Fa’avesi for a try and a 10-5 lead.
Rogers continued to assert herself as she rambled down near the try line. Kelter finished the attack with quick feet and breaking a tackle for a try and the USA lead increased to 15-5.
On the ensuing restart, Cheta Ember won the ball and Naya Tapper went over the line, but lost the ball on her grounding attempt. She then redeemed herself in the waning seconds scoring a try as the Eagles won 20-5 over Spain.
In a post match interview for the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Blog, Alev Kelter, the USA captain, said that “Doing the simple things is really important. Dubai was just getting our feet wet and now we’re ready to go into the day two here at Sydney.”
I certainly hope she is right that the team is ready when it takes on Ireland in the Cup Quarterfinals at 6:22pm ET later today.
The match will be preceded by New Zealand v France and followed by Australia v Fiji and Russia v Canada in the other Cup Quarterfinal matches. The Challenge Trophy Semi-finals will then follow as England takes on Papua New Guinea and Spain plays Brazil.
Women’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC Sydney7s
1. Cheta Emba 2. Kristen Thomas 3. Kelly Griffin 4. Ryan Carlyle 5. Nicole Heavirland 6. Alev Kelter 7. Naya Tapper 8. Kate Zackary 9. Joanne Fa’avesi 10. Kayla Canett 11. Hope Rogers 12. Sarah Buonopane
Starters: Emba, Thomas, Griffin, Heavirland, Carlyle, Kelter, Tapper
Non-Traveling Reserve – Lilly Durbins
Women’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC Sydney7s
HSBC World Women’s Sevens Series: Sydney Sevens Pools & Schedule
Pools: Friday, Feb 3rd
- A – New Zealand, Canada, France, Papua New Guinea
- B – Australia, Fiji, Ireland, Brazil
- C – Russia, England, Spain, USA