Eagles defeat Australia in Cup Quartefinals

GUANGZHOU, China – The Women’s Eagles Sevens came out fresh on Sunday, beating Australia 17-14 in the Cup Quarterfinals of the Guangzhou Women’s Sevens. The Eagles will face New Zealand in the Cup Semifinals at 1:50 A.M. ET Sunday, March 31, in the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series’ third round.

After a wet first day in China, the Eagles looked rested as they went up against Australia, who lost once in Pool B. Head Coach Ric Suggitt’s team closed down the Aussies each time they passed the ball and forced them to commit errors.

Two minutes in, Katie Dowty forced the Australian knock on and the ensuing scrum was won by the Eagles. Lauren Doyle showed off her pace down the right sideline to beat two defenders for the first try of the match. Sadie Anderson missed her conversion, but the Eagles had the important 5-0 lead.

Australia found it hard to break down the Eagles’ defense, and beat themselves when they did. Vanesha McGee chased down an Australian on a break and forced another knock-on, and a kick and chase by Nathalie Marchino allowed the Eagles another penalty in the resulting ruck.

There was no let-up by the Eagles the entire match. The few times they lost the ball, they regained possession by committing the necessary defenders to make a tackle. After the halftime whistle, a devastating ruck by Anderson allowed Victoria Folayan to run up the middle and score her third try of the tournament. Anderson made the easy conversion for the 12-0 halftime lead.

Christy Ringgenberg and Jillion Potter entered the match early in the half, but Australia took the loose ball in the ruck and Brooke Anderson found space in the middle of the field for a long try. Sharni Williams converted from in front to close the gap to 12-7.

The Eagles got one back in the 11th minute. McGee broke three tackles on the sideline and pitched the offload to Folayan who broke a tackle of her own. On her way down from a successful tackle, she passed to an onrushing Doyle who stretched across the try line with an Australian defender on her back to increase the lead again to 17-7. The try marked Doyle’s fourth of the tournament.

The ensuing kickoff was caught by Tiana Penitani 70 meters from the try zone, but she made her way through two flat-footed Eagles defenders for a long run and try. Williams converted her second attempt of the match for an uneasy 17-14 Eagles lead.

In the final few minutes, McGee, Dowty and Potter made a several tackles to keep Australia from crossing midfield and help the Eagles to keep possession. With seconds remaining, an Australian penalty in the ruck awarded the Eagles possession, and Dowty kicked into touch for the win and the second consecutive Cup Semifinals berth of the Series.

New Zealand defeated Ireland 31-5 before the Eagles’ match, extending their unbeaten run in China to four games. The Eagles will face New Zealand later in the day for the chance at another Cup Final. Watch the Guangzhou Women’s Sevens at wsws.irb.com and follow @USAWomens7s on Twitter for live updates.

Women’s Eagles Sevens | vs. Australia
1 Vanesha McGee
2 Kelly Griffin
3 Victoria Folayan
4 Katie Dowty
5 Sadie Anderson
6 Nathalie Marchino
7 Lauren Doyle
8 Deven Owsiany (s)
9 Irene Gardner (s)
10 Christy Ringgenberg (s)
11 Amelia Bizer (s)
12 Jillion Potter (s)

Women’s Eagles Sevens | vs. Australia
Tries: Doyle (2), Folayan
Conversions: Anderson

Women’s Eagles Sevens | Guangzhou Women’s Sevens
Cup Semifinals vs. New Zealand - 1:50 A.M. ET Sunday, March 31