The HSBC World Sevens Series Hamilton Sevens was held 25-26, 2020 in Hamilton, New Zealand. This was a combined Women’s and Men’s event that had a modified determination of place finishes as the Quarterfinal round was controversially eliminated for both Hamilton and the following stop in Sydney.
The USA Women began the 2019-2020 season with two straight medal finishes in Glendale (gold) and Dubai (bronze) and fell in the quarterfinals at Cape Town to finish fifth.
Head Coach Chris Brown has selected 14 players for Hamilton with three changes made from Dubai and Cape Town.
The USA Women’s Sevens beat Russia and Brazil before losing to Australia in Pool B at Hamilton. This set up a fifth-place match against England and the team emerged with a dominant victory.
- No Cup Quarterfinals will be held. The top teams in each of the three pools and highest-ranked teams after them will automatically qualify for the Cup Semifinals.
- The two highest-ranked teams remaining will face one another in the 5th Place Final while the two highest-ranked teams after them will play in the 7th Place Final. This sequence continues for the 9th place and 11th place rounds, respectively.
USA Women’s Sevens Squad Preview
USA 19-12 Russia
The USA Women’s Sevens opened Pool B at the Hamilton Sevens with a 19-12 victory.
The team took a 7-0 lead into the break after a try by Ilona Maher. Russia controlled possession during the first four minutes. The try came after Baizat Khamidova was sent to the bin of r a high tackle on Kristi Kirshe.
The USA pushed the lead to 12-0 after a chip and chase by Alev Kelter. Russia answered back with a Kristina Seredina try to cut the lead to 12-5.
The teams then traded tries with Lauren Doyle adding a third try for the USA to lead 19-12. Russia claimed the final try as Baizut Khamidova outpaced the Women’s Eagles on the right wide channel to a try, making the final 19-12.
USA 34-7 Brazil
The USA Women’s Sevens defeated Brazil 34-7 to set up a winner-take-all match against Australia to advance to the semifinals.
After Brazil’s Thalia Costa scored the opening try with Co-Captain Kris Thomas answering back for the first of six scores.
Stephanie Rovetti scored back-to-back tries and then set up Ilona Maher for another one. Alev Kelter and Naya Tapper also added tries with Kelter and Heavirland adding conversions.
USA 14-19 Australia
Both teams came into the final pool match knowing that a win or a draw meant advancing to the semifinals.
Australia opened the scoring after Emilee Cherry kicked ahead with no USA sweeper. Ellia Green picked up the loose ball for a try.
On the ensuing restart, Kris Thomas stepped and then split defenders for a try under the posts with Alev Kelter adding the extras to lead 7-5.
The USA claimed the restart with a Kelter break, however, a Naya Tapper handling errors had Australia counterattacking with Green finishing to reclaim the lead, 12-7.
The USA scored first in the second half, as Ilona Maher punished two defenders and offloaded to Alev Kelter as she was tackled. Kelter outpaced the defense for a try under the posts and slotted the conversion to lead 14-12.
Green then scored a hat trick after a missed tackle for a 19-14 lead by Australia.
The ensuing restart was not 10-meters and gave the USA one final opportunity to score. Tactics proved to be their undoing as they needed to maintain possession. Instead, an ill-advised chip ahead gave possession to Australia. A quick kick into touch then gave Australia the win.
With no quarterfinals at Hamilton, the USA will play for fifth place.
The 5th Place Final: USA 45-5 England
The loss to Australia knocked the team out of the medal rounds. The USA kept its composure and emerged with a dominant 45-5 victory over England in the Fifth Place Final in Hamilton.
The women scored seven breakaway tries with Ilona Maher and Kristi Kirshe with two each. Alev Kelter, Naya Tapper, and Kayla Canett also scored. Nicole Heavirland had 2 conversions and Alev Kelter added three more.
With the fifth-place finish in Hamilton, the team added another 12 points to their World Series standings. The U.S. will turn its attention to Sydney (Feb 1-2) for the fifth women’s round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Updated standings will be published on the World Rugby Sevens website. Schedules for HSBC Sydney Sevens will be published early next week. All matches can be streamed LIVE on NBC Sports Gold.
USA Women’s Eagles Sevens Squad + Tournaments Played
1 Stephanie Rovetti (Flyhalf/Wing, 4) 2 Ilona Maher (Center/Prop, 10) 3 Abby Gustaitis (Co-Captain, Prop/Hooker, 10) 4 Nicole Heavirland (Hooker / Scrumhalf, 22) 5 Alev Kelter (Center/Prop, 32) 6 Lauren Doyle (Flyhalf/Wing, 28) 7 Naya Tapper (Wing/Prop, 20) 8 Jordan Gray-Matyas (Prop, 12) 9 Eti Haungatau (Prop, 2) 10 Kayla Canett (Scrumhalf/Flyhalf, 8) 11 Kris Thomas (Co-Captain), Hooker/Center, 24) 12 Kristi Kirshe (Center/Wing, 7) 13 Cheta Emba (Prop/Wing, injury reserve, 15) 14 Nana Fa’avesi (Scrumhalf, injury reserve, 18)
USA Women’s Eagles Sevens Staff
Head Coach Chris Brown, Strength & Conditioning Matt Long, Performance Analyst JD Stephenson, Athletic Trainer Nicole Titmas, Team Manager Liz Strohecker
HSBC HAMILTON SEVENS SCHEDULE & RESULTS
vs Russia 19-12 (W)
vs Brazil 34-7 (W)
vs Australia 19-14 (L)
vs England 45-5 (W) – 5th Place Final