August 15, 2017
USA and England Play to Reach Semi-Finals at WRWC2017
Photo: Miss Colleen Rugby Pics
The USA Women’s Eagles face England, the defending World Champions, on Thursday, August 17 at the UCD Bowl in Dublin at 9:30am ET in their final Pool B match. At stake is a berth in the Semi-Finals of the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017.
The winner of the match on Thursday will advance to the Semi-Finals, as the Pool B first place team, while the loser will need to be the top ranked second place team. Pool winners will be determined on Thursday as New Zealand with 10 points plays Canada with 9 and France with 10 points plays Ireland with 8. Should both New Zealand and France win their matches, then both the USA and England would advance to the Semi-Finals, unless Canada could secure a losing bonus point if the match against the Black Ferns was within 7 points.
On Thursday, #3 ranked Canada and #2 ranked New Zealand play the first match and the result will be known when the second match of the day, USA versus England begins. Determining the teams in the Semi-Finals still will come down to the final match of the day, when #4 ranked France and #5 ranked Ireland meet.
From a historic perspective, this is the 17th meeting between the USA and England. After winning the first ever World Cup in 1991, the USA reached the final in the next two competitions in 1994 and 1998, but since then, England have won all 14 meetings against the Eagles, including winning 39-13 in Utah last year. Although England’s history and its #1 ranking in the world make the Red Roses the favorite. Meanwhile, the 6th ranked Eagles are playing well and will seek to challenge.
NBC Sports Gold’s Rugby Pass will provide live coverage of Thursdays match between the Eagles and the Red Roses starting at 9:30 a.m. ET for viewers in the United States, while fans outside of America can watch the action on the official website of the Women’s World Cup.
Head Coach Pete Steinberg has made two changes in the forwards, while the backs remain unchanged from their win over Spain. Hooker Katy Augustyn and Alycia Washington at lock return as starters from the opening match against Italy.
The backs, consisting mainly of USA Women’s Sevens players have the consistency of having played together numerous times, as well as being able to exploit space in the attack.
The Eagles have a solid group of forwards that have contributed to attacks in the middle of the pitch, while also being able to contribute to the Eagles’ stifling defense. This contributes to the Eagles being able to create space out wide.
The front row will consist of Props Catie Benson and captain Tiffany Faaee, with Katy Augustyn at hooker. Stacey Bridges and Alycia Washington are the locks. The back row combination of Sara Parsons and Kate Zackary as flankers and Jordan Gray at No. 8 remains intact for the third consecutive match.
In the backs, the halfback combination is Devin Owsiany and Kimber Rozier, centers Alev Kelter and Nicole Heavirland, and a back three, of Kristen Thomas and Naya Tapper at wing and Cheta Ember at fullback.
The match is expected to be a physical one, so the reserves will be relied upon to keep a high pace and contribute when called upon. This is also the third match for twelve of the starters in nine days, so the reserves will be utilized.
Hope Rogers has been an impact player at pro, while Nick James could gain her first international cap at prop. Expect Sam Pankey also as a replacement at hooker. Other forwards include Abby Gustaitis at lock and Kristine Sommer in the back row. Back reserves include Kayla Canett-Oca at flyhalf, at center Sylvia Braaten and Jesssica Wooden at fullback.
Jessica Wooden is now fit and and ready to represent the USA again in the World Cup. She plays for the Harlequins Ladies and is very familiar with many of the England team players. Sylvia Braaten also is a World Cup veteran.
Pete Steinberg commented to USA Rugby that “The schedule is really tough and something that World Rugby needs to look at. We are relatively healthy and we have managed the players’ volumes pretty well. However, we came in knowing that our team had not played enough together, so we have had only a few changes in each game. This means that we are still improving as we learn to work together.”
“England has the best lineout maul in the game. We need to stop their maul and disrupt in the air and on the ground. Their kicking game is also very effective, and while our back three is very dynamic, they have not played a lot of rugby together. So, making sure our positioning is right is important.”
Red Roses head coach Simon Middleton has made six changes for the Pool B decider against the USA. Both teams are 2-0, having beating both Italy and Spain in previous pool matches and have 10 points in the standings. The winner will advance to the semi-finals, while the loser may also get in depending on the outcome of the New Zealand vs. Canada and France vs. Ireland matches. The match will be broadcast live on ITV 4.
Sarah Hunter returns at No. 8 to captain the side, with Alex Matthews moving to blind-side flanker. Props Vickii Cornborough and Sarah Bern will be in the front row with Amy Cokayn being retained at hooker. Abbie Scott joins Tamara Taylor, who switches sides at lock. Marlie Packer also continues as open-sde flanker.
In the backs, Katy Mclean returns at fly half with Amber Reed moving to inside center, where she will partner with Emily Scarratt. Kay Wilson, who scored four tries in the opening game against Spain, returns on the wing, with Amy Wilson Hardy switching to right wing and Danielle Waterman returning at fullback. Natasha Hunt also is retained at scrumhalf.
Following her minor injury, hooker Vicky Fleetwood is named on the bench while center Rachel Burford is set to get her 70th cap if she comes on.
Middleton indicated to the RFU that “This is a winner takes all game in terms of topping the pool and will require a full 23-squad effort to get the job done. Regardless of whether players have been selected to start, or will come on as finishers, everyone has equal weight in the team, fully understands what their role is and what they need to deliver come match day.”
“We know playing against USA will be tough, they play a very physical game and have some dangerous players on the ball but we have prepared well and the squad are in a good place, not only physically but mentally. We have confidence in the entire squad and it’s now about going out and making sure we put in a full 80-minute performance.”
USA Women’s Eagles v England: 1 Catherine Benson 2 Kathryn Augustyn 3 Tiffany Faaee (C) 4 Stacey Bridges 5 Alycia Washington 6 Sara Parsons 7 Kate Zackary 8 Jordan Gray 9 Devin Owsiany 10 Kimber Rozier 11 Kristen Thomas 12 Alev Kelter 13 Nicole Heavirland 14 Naya Tapper 15 Cheta Ember 16 Sam Pankey 17 Hope Rogers 18 Nick James 19 Abby Gustaitis 20 Kristine Sommer 21 Kayla Canett-Oca 22 Sylvia Braaten 23 Jesssica Wooden
England v USA: 1. Vickii Cornborough 2. Amy Cokayne 3. Sarah Bern 4. Abbie Scott 5. Tamara Taylor 6. Alex Matthews 7. Marlie Packer 8. Sarah Hunter (C) 9. Natasha Hunt 10. Katy Mclean 11. Amy Wilson Hardy 12. Amber Reed 13. Emily Scarratt 14. Amy Wilson Hardy 15. Danielle Waterman 16. Vicky Fleetwood 17. Rochelle Clark 18. Justine Lucas 19. Poppy Cleall 20 Harriet Millar-Mills 21. Leanne Riley 22. Rachael Burford 23. Megan Jones