February 3, 2017
Eagles Women’s 7s to Play for Cup After Win Against New Zealand
The Eagles Women’s Sevens advanced to the Cup Finals against Canada at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Sydney Sevens with a 19-12 win over the New Zealand Black Ferns. Canada defeated the Olympic Champions Australia 12-7 to make it a North American Final.
Earlier the USA won against Ireland in the Cup Quarterfinals. The Cup Finals will be on Saturday, February 4 at 1:42am ET and will be broadcast live via The Rugby Channel.
USA v New Zealand
Alev Kelter was on fire for the semi-final match against the New Zealand Black Ferns. The USA dominated possession and Kelter scored 14 of the teams 19 points. She is a dream team candidate. Naya Tapper should also receive consideration for scoring six tries so far.
New Zealand went on the attack from the opening restart, as Sarah Gross caught the restart, but Niall Williams couldn’t handle the offload.
Nicole Heavirland then led the Eagles to midfield and Cheeta Emba weaved her way to the 10 meters. Keli Griffin then was held up briefly, but managed to get a knee to the ground. Alev Kelter then fended off a defender and Ryan Carlyle executed a switch with Naya Tapper, and a penalty was called on New Zealand. That’s all that was needed as Alve Kelter went over for a try and a 5-0 lead. Soon after, Kelter would add another try under the posts and then add a conversion for a 12-0 lead at halftime.
During the first half the Eagles starved the Black Ferns of possession.
The restart to begin the second half had Emba and Zackary colliding and New Zeland had a scrum. Kelter created a turnover after a counter ruck and after a couple of runs into contact, Heavirland offloaded to Tapper for her 6th try of the tournament. Kelter converted and the Eagles increased their lead to 19-0.
New Zealand were not to be denied as Katarina Whata-Simpkins sold a dummy and raced in for a long try. Tyla Nathan-Wong converted and the score was 19-7.
Kelter then gathered the restart, but was hit high by Portia Woodman and sent to the bin.
While New Zealand was down to six players, Hope Rogers went into contact and Emba took on 3 defenders. It was a physical display against New Zealand. Rogers then offloaded to Kayla Canett, who turned the ball over. A missed tackle was all it took for Tyla nathan -Wong to find a gap and race for a 90 meter try. Her conversion went wide, but the lead was narrowed to 19-12.
New Zealand needed to get the restart to have a chance with no time remaining on the clock, but Emba gathered the restart and Heavirland kicked into touch for the win and a berth in the Cup Final.
With Canada’s 12-7 win against Australia, it will be a North American Cup Final. It will also be the USA’s best tour finish in some time. I hope that the momentum gained through the tournament will also pay dividends in Las Vegas, the next Series stop on the tour.
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