Eagles fall to England, earn Cup qualification

GUANGZHOU, China – After a lengthy lightning delay, the Women’s Sevens Eagles battled attrition and the elements in a tough 19-0 loss to England to close out pool play at Guangzhou Women’s Sevens Saturday. The Eagles may get another chance at revenge, as they qualified for the Cup Quarterfinals on Sunday.

The England players may be more used to the rain than the Eagles, who train at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, but the weather in Guangzhou did not do either team any favors. Multiple knock-ons and dropped passes caused broken plays, and it was England to take advantage.

Two-and-a-half minutes into the match, the Eagles lost possession in the ruck and England gained possession before Kat Merchant and her teammate outnumbered Lauren Doyle for the opening try. Katy McLean kicked the conversion in front of the posts for an early 7-0 lead. Sadie Anderson was inserted immediately after the score.

England won the ensuing kickoff and the Eagles committed a penalty, giving their opposition the opportunity to quickly move the ball. They did just that, passing it efficiently to the right to find space. Captain Vanesha McGee chased down an England player five meters away from the try line, but it was only a matter of seconds before another phase gave them the score. Doyle made a nice tackle to stop a try, but Alexandra Matthews finished the play down the middle. McLean made her second conversion of the match to extend the lead to 14-0.

Victoria Folayan, match-winner against China earlier in the day, caught the kickoff but rolled into touch for one of the match’s many scrums. The Eagles lost possession after committing a penalty and England found space on the opposite side of the field once again. Emily Scarratt almost made it to the try zone herself but the committed Eagles defense stopped her. Unfortunately, from the ground, Scarratt found an oncoming train in Natasha Brennan for the open score. McLean gave the Eagles quick respite by missing her conversion, but it was still a three-possession game at the half, 19-0.

England swarmed every time the Eagles had the ball and,without much time to consider their options, the Eagles lost possession either due to a slippery ball or penalty. McGee managed to regain possession in a ruck and found open field down the sideline, but still could not beat the last defender. She got a pass off to Doyle, who hit the same wall.

Deven Owsiany entered the match a few minutes into the half, but did not get much time with the ball. England’s resourceful ball control offered the Eagles few chances to mount a comeback. Kelly Griffin stole the ball but a knock-on gave it right back, a continual problem for most teams Saturday in the rain.

Amelia Bizer replaced Folayan late and the Eagles started throwing their weight around, but could not regain possession. England, hoping to add to their point differential, opted not to kick the ball into touch to end the match, but it ended two minutes later without further scoring.

The Eagles finish day one in China with a 2-1 record, good for a place in the Cup Quarterfinals against Australia. Follow @USAWomens7s on Twitter for updates

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

Women’s Eagles Sevens | Guangzhou Women’s Sevens
Cup Quarterfinals vs. Australia – 10:22 P.M. ET Saturday, March 30