Eagles to play for third place after New Zealand defeat

GUANGZHOU, China – The Women’s Sevens Eagles could not reach their second Cup Final of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, losing 12-24 to New Zealand in the Guangzhou Women’s Sevens Cup Semifinals. The Eagles will face Canada in the Third Place match at 4:48 A.M. ET Sunday, March 31.

Lauren Doyle saved an early try in the first minute of the match by making a good tackle on an All Black destined for the try zone and the Eagles kept out any attackers by pushing them back to their own 22. From there, however, Kelly Brazier ran past a couple of defenders and opened the scoring with the try. She made her own conversion for a 7-0 lead.

In the fourth minute, the Eagles drove down the field to the New Zealand 22, where they were awarded a penalty. They were quickly awarded another and Kelly Griffin found Nathalie Marchino from the ground for the Eagles’ try. Sadie Anderson converted the extra two points and the match was level at 7-7.

The Eagles had an advantage after New Zealand’s Kayla McAlister and Folayan used it to push off her opposite number and race down the field. She was five meters from the try line before she was finally taken down. New Zealand’s counter-ruck won the ball back and the All Blacks kicked it away to safety.

At the six-minute mark, Doyle lost the ball to McAlister, who broke Anderson’s tackle near midfield and ran into the try zone for the lead. Brazier scuffed her kick from in front and gave the Eagles hope, down only 12-7 at the half.

The Eagles kicked off the second half and let in an early try by McAlister. The All Blacks tried moving the ball to one side and were stopped by a stingy Eagles defense, but a switch the other way allowed McAlister to find the try zone. Brazier missed another conversion, keeping the Eagles within striking distance at 17-7.

In the ninth minute, some efficient passing by the Eagles and good form in the ruck forced a New Zealand penalty. Griffin took it quickly again and gained ground, and captain Vanesha McGee found space between defenders to bring the Eagles within one try at 17-12.

A minute later, New Zealand ended the Eagles’ Cup Final hopes with another try. Sarah Goss broke a tackle near midfield and ran towards the try zone, but the speedy McGee made the tackle to keep her out. Unfortunately, Goss was supported by substitute Ruby Tui, who received a pass and ran around Anderson in the area to touch down between the sticks. Brazier’s conversion extended the All Blacks’ lead to 24-12.

Head Coach Ric Suggitt wanted fresh legs on the field to try to quickly close the gap, but the additions of Deven Owsiany, Jillion Potter, Christy Ringgenberg and Irene Gardner failed to make an impact with such little time left. The Eagles could not get through the New Zealand defense and a penalty gave the All Blacks the opportunity to kick the ball into touch to end the game.

The Eagles still have another match left against Canada, who lost to England 19-0 in the other Cup Semifinal match of the tournament. The Eagles will gain 16 standings points with a win in the Third Place match or 14 with a loss, which would see them jump South Africa and Russia for sole possession of fourth place with one IRB Women’s Sevens World Series round left.

Watch the Eagles take on Canada at 4:48 A.M. ET Sunday, March 31, at wsws.irb.com and follow live updates from Guangzhou with @USAWomens7s on Twitter.

Women’s Eagles Sevens | vs. New Zealand
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. New Zealand
Tries: Marchino, McGee
Conversions: Anderson

Women’s Eagles Sevens | Guangzhou Women’s Sevens
Third Place vs. Canada 4:48 A.M. ET Sunday, March 31