Eagles and France please crowd in final test

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CARSON, Calif. – Ashley Kmiecik and Erica Cavanaugh each scored a try in the Women’s Eagles’ third test against France in eight days in front of a capacity crowd in Carson, but it was not enough to overcome Les Blues, with the visitors coming away with an 18-12 win.

The Eagles were hoping to put the first half performances of the first two matches behind them with a good start and they did. Sadie Anderson broke through the French defense in the second minute and the Eagles did not give up the ball in the first five minutes. Anderson had an opportunity to put the Eagles on the board first with a penalty kick but it missed just wide.

France eventually got the ball and strung together a few good phases before sending a kick across the field into open space. Though the French attacker was well-positioned to get the ball, she knocked it on, turning the ball over to the Eagles.

The Eagles’ defense was up for the task in the 18th minute, holding up two France tries in the in-goal before finally succumbing to a successful France try a minute later. The converted try gave France a 7-0 lead halfway through the opening frame.

Meya Bizer opened the France defense in the 25th minute with a weaving run into the attacking half of the field, but made a poor decision to pass when she went into contact. She ended up turning over the ball, though France knocked it on to end any threat.

France immediately found space again to send a chip kick behind the Eagles’ defense but the French attacker was taken into touch. Anderson missed another penalty in the 30th minute but made up for it with a great switch play two minutes later to set up Kmiecik’s try. Anderson made the conversion from the touchline to level the match at 7-7.

The Eagles had one last opportunity a few minutes before the end of the half when a clearance kick was knocked on by France in terrific field position. Nothing came of it, however, sending the teams into the locker rooms at halftime even at 7-7.

France converted two of four penalties in the first 20 minutes of the second half to increase the lead to 13-7 before adding a try in the 64th minute--putting the match seemingly out of reach for the Eagles at 18-7.

The Eagles got a fantastic individual try from a marauding Cavanaugh to draw within a try at 12-18, but even a player up after a French yellow card the Eagles could not find another score.

Though France takes the three-test series with two wins and one loss, the Eagles can take heart in the way they have put in tough performances against a side which finished second in the IRB Women’s Six Nations Championship. The Eagles were able to beat France for the first time since 1996 last Friday and kept the games closer than the two losses the Eagles suffered in France last November.

Up next for the Women’s Eagles is the Nations Cup in Greeley, Colo., from July 27 to August 11, a precursor to the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in France next year.

Women's Eagles | vs. France
1. Sarah Chobot (Rogers @ 70)
2. Katy Augustyn (Wagner @ 50)
3. Jamie Burke
4. Sharon Blaney (Daley @ 50)
5. Sarah Walsh (Zdancewicz @ 60)
6. Stacey Bridges
7. Lynelle Kugler
8. Shaina Turley (C)
9. Jossy Tseng
10. Sadie Anderson
11. Ashley Kmiecik
12. Anne Peterson
13. Megan Bonny (Stolba @ 60)
14. Erica Cavanaugh
15. Meya Bizer

Women's Eagles | Reserves
16. Kittery Wagner
17. Hope Rogers
18. Naima Reddick
19. Kristen Zdancewicz
20. Kate Daley
21. Carrie White
22. Hannah Stolba
23. Amanda Street