USA Loses to New Zealand & to Play for Bronze at #WRWC2017

August 22, 2017

USA Loses to New Zealand & to Play for Bronze at #WRWC2017


Photo: INPHO/Billy Stickland (Portia Woodman dives over to score her second try)

Doug Coil

The USA Women’s Eagles lost to New Zealand 45-12 in the semi-finals of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup on Tuesday, August 22 at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. With the win, the Black Ferns will play the winner of the England -France match, while Eagles will play the loser for the Bronze.


The match was broadcast live on NBCSN in the United States and in New Zealand on Sky Sport 1. In other countries, the match will be streamed on

In addition to Tuesday’s match, NBCSN will also televise the Women’s Rugby World Cup final on Sunday, August 27, at 11 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Gold – NBC Sports Digital’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product provided live coverage of the two semifinal matches on Tuesday, August 22, as well as the final on Saturday, August 26.

New Zealand v USA Recap (Preview)

The Black Ferns placed the Eagles under pressure and after several phases inside 22 meters New Zealand’s Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali went in for the first try in the 2nd minute for a 5-0 lead. Kendra Cocksedge’s conversion bounced off the posts.

New Zealand then spent the next few minutes inside the USA 22 half. The USA’s defense was stellar and Naya Tapper thwarted a potential score with a steal near their line. The USA survived this Black Ferns pressure and after a penalty mauled their way after a lineout inside New Zealand territory.

New Zealand was penalized again and the Eagles attacked from a lineout before losing the ball deep inside Black Ferns territory. Subritzky-Nafatali cleared, but her kick went directly into touch and the USA had a lineout just outside the New Zealand 22 meters. The ball was however stolen and cleared to Emba for another USA attack.

Early on the USA defense has been outstanding and since the Black Ferns score has had most of the possession. After a strong runs by Naya Tapper, then Emba, Kristen Thomas took a pass for a try to knot the match 5 all in the 16th minute. Then Alev Kelter slotted the conversion to take a 7-5 lead.

On the restart , Catie Benson went to ground and Sarah Goss caused a turnover penalty, which Kendra Cocksedge slotted to reclaim a 8-7 lead. New Zealand attacked again off the restart, but strong defense from Parsons and Washington allowed the USA to clear from a penalty.

The ball then went to the Black Ferns after a quick lineout and the USA continued their strong defense at their 22 meters. A Subritzky-Nafatali grub went to Thomas, but soon the attack went back to New Zealand and the USA continued with their huge hits.

From a New Zealand scrum, Portia Woodman attacked the nine channel and evaded five defenders to score a try under the posts, Cocksedge an easy conversion to increase the lead to 15-7.

After a kick ahead by the Black Ferns, Cheta Emba broke to midfield before a penalty at the breakdown had New Zealand attacking again. Alev Kelter quickly poached the ball and the USA cleared. The Black Ferns had numbers on the left, but Subritzky-Nafatali’s kick went past in-goal giving the Eagles a 22 meter drop.

A counter ruck by the Eagles had them attacking inside the 22 meters. The Eagles went through 11 phases and chipped ahead, but the ball was cleared for a USA lineout just outside the 22 meters. Parsons led the attack and after 12 phases, Stacey Bridges went in for an apparent try. The ball went forward, but penalty advantage gave the USA a penalty. Rather then going for points and the lead, the Eagles took a quick tap and lost the ball forward.

It was a brilliant first half, with the match being seen live on NBC Sports Net in the United States. The exposure of rugby to a national United States audience, coupled with the tremendous play from the USA, is something that can help grow the sport. It is also essential that there be continued rugby coverage in the USA.

Phaidra Knight, who played in three World Cups, commented on NBCSN at halftime that the she has not seen the USA play this well in some time and was excited the way the match has transpired.

After receiving the second half restart, a USA handling error resulted in a scrum inside USA territory by the Black Ferns. The ball went wide to Woodman, who lost the ball forward. Jordan Gray went into contact from the scrum and after a few phases cleared the ball.

New Zealand then pressure the Eagles deep inside USA territory for a few minutes, as the Eagles continued to repel the Black Ferns attack. A Hope Rogers steal at the breakdown allowed some relief for the USA as Cheta Emba cleared.

That relief was temporary, as the ball was grubbed ahead by Kelly Brazier with Selica Winiata executing a pop pass to Portia Woodman on the tackle for a try to increase the lead to 20-7 in the 49th minute.

The Black Ferns attacked deep on the restart, however Alev Kelter poached the ball and Deven Owsiany cleared with a box kick. From the ensuing lineout, New Zealand mauled ahead before involving the backs. The Eagles were penalized fro being off their feet at the breakdown, which resulted in a Kendra Cocksedge penalty kick to increase the lead to 23-7.

New Zealand took the restart and after a couple of phases cleared the ball. The Balck Ferns were then penalized at midfield that allowed an attack from a lineout, but the ball went back to New Zealand the throw in was not straight.

New Zealand was not able to take advantage as the ball went into touch and the Eagles attacked from a lineout. After a couple of phases, an offload by Kate Zackary sprung Alev Kelter as she raced in for a try to close the gap to 23-12. Her conversion however, went wide.

The restart went to Hope Rogers and Cheta Emba cleared, but was in front of the 22, so a the Black Ferns could attack just outside the 22 form a lineout. New Zealand then used several picks and goes, before Brazier moved the ball wide to Cocksedge to Woodman, who stepped inside Emba for a try to increase the lead 28-12.

A TMO confirmed that Linda Itunu made contact with Hope Rogers’ head on the tackle and was sent to the bin in the 65th minute. This allowed Emba to kick to touch for a lineout at midfield. The attack went through several phases before the ball was lost forward to Cocksedge, who cleared. Tapper then fended on the attack and then the ball went wide left where the USA advanced the ball into touch at the 22 meters.

With the ball in New Zealand’s hands, they kept the ball in the forwards to take time off the clock, while down a player. From a lineout inside the USA 22 meters the ball was turned over by Sam Pankey and the USA cleared. From the ensuing lineout, the ball went wide to Woodman for her fourth try of the match for a 33-12 lead.

On a kick ahead, a TMO confirmed that Stacey Waaka lost the ball in grounding the ball in-goal, resulting in a USA 5 meter scrum. Kayla Canett-Oca cleared, but the attack from New Zealand had Subritzky-Nafatali kicking across the pitch to Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate for a try to increase the lead to 38-12. That was the second try that the Black Ferns scored down a player.

Carla Hohepha streamed down the pitch on the restart and Kelly Brazier finished with a try under the posts that was then converted. After three quick tries the score suddenly was 45-12.

The final score of 45-12 to the Black Ferns does not reflect the closeness of the match. The USA gave New Zealand a competitive match with a strong defensive performance.

With the win New Zealand advances to the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final for the fifth time and will play the winner of the England versus France semi-final, while the EAgles will play the loser for the Bronze. The Black Ferns have won their previous four other finals.

USA Women’s Eagles v New Zealand: 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 Tess Feury 23 Jesssica Wooden

New Zealand Black Ferns: 1. Toka Natua 2. Fiao’o Faamausili (C) 3. Aldora Itunu 4. Eloise Blackwell 5. Charmaine Smith 6. Charmaine McMenamin 7. Sarah Goss 8. Aroha Savage 9. Kendra Cocksedge 10. Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali 11. Renee Wickliffe 12. Kelly Brazier 13. Stacey Waaka 14. Portia Woodman 15. Selica Winiata 16. Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate 17. Sosoli Talawadua 18. Aleisha Nelson 19. Rebecca Wood 20. Lesley Ketu 21. Linda Itunu 22. Theresa Fitzpatrick 23. Carla Hohepha



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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant