Folayan, Doyle complete Eagles’ comeback against China

GUANGZHOU, China – An early scare by China kicked the Eagles into high gear in their second pool match Saturday at Guangzhou Women’s Sevens, but they overturned a 12-point deficit to win 19-12. England awaits at 3:04 A.M. ET.

Head Coach Ric Suggitt opted to start a faster lineup against China, much like the second-half team against Fiji earlier in the day, with Victoria Folayan and Lauren Doyle in the starting seven.

Vanesha McGee saved an early try from the sweeper position by chasing down a long kick, but it did not take long for China to score. China won a lineout near their own 22 and Yao Jiyan found space between the stretched Eagles defense for a lengthy try. Fan Wenjuan’s conversion put the Eagles down 7-0 after three minutes.

In the fourth minute, Doyle was taken down hard near the sideline and China was awarded a penalty. A China lineout seconds later resulted in another opportunity for the Chinese to break through the Eagles’ defense, and they did just that by moving the play out wide. Lui Yan was chased into the try zone by Doyle, who thought she held up the would-be scorer. South African referee Marlize Jordaan awarded the try, anyway, but the Eagles caught a break as Wang Qianli missed the conversion.

Down 12-0, the Eagles showed off their speed with Kelly Griffin down the left sideline, but she found herself being chased and finally tackled. Folayan picked up the ball from the ruck and beat the trailing defender for the Eagles’ opening try. Sadie Anderson, making her second consecutive start, kicked the conversion after the halftime whistle from in front to close the gap to 7-12.

Only thirty seconds into the second half, the Eagles took the lead. In the middle of the field, a streaking Folayan received a pass from McGee and managed to break free of a China player tugging at her shirt to score between the sticks. Anderson’s conversion was good and the Eagles found themselves only up by two at 14-12.

Suggitt called upon the tenacious Jillion Potter for some defensive cover and the substitute did not disappoint. With about one minute remaining in the match, she forced a knock-on and the Eagles regained possession. Doyle received the ball wide amidst two defenders, but split them and scored her second try of the day. Anderson missed her conversion and the Eagles had a one-possession lead at 19-12 with 30 seconds remaining.

China received possession from the kickoff and played some smart passing plays to keep it away from the Eagles, but that could not last forever. China committed a penalty in the ruck caused by two Eagles closing down the play. The Eagles could have won the game by kicking it out, but knew how important point differential could be going into the second day. Substitute Christy Ringgenberg kept the game going, but a knock-on forced the referee’s whistle for the 19-12 win.

Fiji, who lost to the Eagles 15-10 in the first Pool C match, did not do the Eagles any favors by losing to England 24-10, but a 2-0 record going into the final group match will offer the Eagles an opportunity to reach the Cup. Watch the Eagles in a Houston Cup Final rematch against England at 3:04 A.M. ET on the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series website and follow along with live Twitter updates from @USAWomens7s.

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

Women’s Eagles Sevens | Guangzhou Women’s Sevens
vs. England – 3:04 A.M. ET Saturday, March 30