Second half surge puts Eagles into Cup Semifinals

MOSCOW, Russia - In a very exciting match, the Women’s Eagles Sevens defeated Ireland 14-5 to set up a Rugby World Cup Semifinal against New Zealand at 7:56 AM E.T. inside Luzhniki Stadium.

“We did a much better job in the second half to move the ball around, and that opens up gaps for players like Vix (Victoria Folayan) who are hard to stop,” explained second half impact player Nathalie Marchino.

The Eagles attacked right from the restart, and Jillion Potter’s pass almost sent Kimber Rozier over for the opening points. However, the ball bounced awkwardly, with Ireland managing to use an overlap and race away for a try on the other side of the field.

Amy Davis touched down as Ireland took an early 5-0 lead.

The Eagles followed with several phases of possession but were penalized twice for holding onto the ball on the ground.

Head Coach Ric Suggitt, as we have seen all weekend, used early replacements Deven Owsiany and Kelly Griffin for Ryan Carlyle and Irene Gardner.

After a strong scrum, the Eagles looked to build an attacking platform but a knock-on gave Ireland possession. Both teams seemed slightly frantic in the opening seven minutes, as the halftime siren sounded with Ireland up by one try, 5-0.

The second half began with Ireland surging towards the USA tryline, but Rozier and Potter put in some massive tackles, and Ireland had a knock-on. Following the scrum, Folayan received the ball with some room to move. The speedster put through an excellent chip and chase, almost gathering inside Ireland’s half, but an Irish player recovered the ball and was carried into touch.

The USA lineout was firing, and the forwards attacked the short-side, desperately close to scoring. Unfortunately, another penalty went the way of Ireland, and they kicked for touch to relieve pressure.

Before the next play, Kathryn "KJ" Johnson and Marchino entered the field for the Eagles.

Marchino, using her speed and strength, got involved in the very next play and linked beautifully with Folayan who broke a tackle but was stopped a meter from the line. Marchino gathered it however, and dove over to score for the Eagles.

Rozier kicked the conversion and the USA led 7-5 to the cheers from the crowd at Gorodok Stadium.

With only one minute left, the Eagles gathered the restart and Folayan used her fancy footwork to beat two defenders and burst through under the poles to score. The Eagles second try was converted by Rozier as the siren sounded in the background for a fantastic 14-5 win.

“The energy was a little bit flat, and I wanted to do whatever it took to get the team going, to create some momentum,” said Marchino. “It’s nice to be able to come in with fresh legs, especially with all the starters doing the hard work before we enter the game.”

The Eagles 14-5 Cup Quarterfinal win over Ireland sees them advance to the Cup Semifinal where they will face New Zealand at 7.56 AM E.T. inside Luzhniki Stadium.

This Cup Semifinal clash is a rematch for the Eagles, who lost 14-12 against New Zealand at the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai.

Meanwhile all games at the Luzhniki Stadium (including the Women’s Cup Semifinals and Finals) will be shown on as well as broadcast on Universal Sports. Coverage on Universal Sports will begin on June 30 at 1:30 AM E.T.

Follow live updates on Twitter from the official USA Rugby account (@USARugby) and read game recaps Join the conversation using #RWC7s.

Women’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | vs. Ireland
1. Jillion Potter
2. Kelly Griffin (s)
3. Vanesha McGee
4. Deven Owsiany (s)
5. Kimber Rozier
6. Christy Ringgenberg
7. Victoria Folayan
8. Kathryn "KJ" Johnson (s)
9. Irene Gardner
10. Emilie Bydwell (s)
11. Nathalie Marchino (s)
12. Ryan Carlyle

Women’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | vs. Ireland
Tries: Marchino, Folayan
Conversion: Rozier (2)

Women’s Eagles Sevens | Schedule
USA vs. New Zealand - Cup Semifinals - 7.56AM E.T. (Luzkniki Stadium)

Women’s Eagles Sevens | Results
USA 14 Ireland 5 (Cup Quarterfinals - June 30)
USA 12 Brazil 7 (Pool Stages - June 29)
USA 31 Fiji 5 (Pool Stages - June 29)
USA 19 Spain 7 (Pool Stages - June 29)

Women’s Eagles Sevens | Staff
Ric Suggitt (Head Coach)
JoAnne Kos (Assistant Coach/Team Manager)
Nicole Titmas (Athletic Trainer)
Dr. Lisa Bartoli (Team Doctor)