Eagles reflect on Kazakhstan victory, match against Black Ferns

PARIS, France – The Women’s Eagles’ win over Kazakhstan may be the key to beating New Zealand. Removed from the first win during the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup, the Eagles reflect on the victory in preparation for the upcoming match against the Black Ferns.

“It was exciting to see seven players score tries,” said Eagles Defense Coach Peter Baggetta when asked about the Kazakhstan match. “[It] shows the balance we have on the team as well as the belief that everyone is a contributor.”

Coming off of a 23-17 loss to Ireland, the Eagles rebounded against Kazakhstan with a 47-7 win over the Nomads.

“We started off slowly, but improved as the game continued,” said Baggetta, noting the growth between games. “Our performance was obviously better than against Ireland, and we were pleased with the way the team bounced back from the tough loss.”

The win was the biggest margin of victory since the 2013 Nations Cup win over South Africa (60-3).

“What was great about the win (over Kazakhstan) was that it was a total team effort. Everyone contributed and did their jobs,” furthered Baggetta. “At the end of the day that is all you can ask of each player; to do her job.”

Accomplishing its goals against Kazakhstan – getting the win and bonus point – attention was quickly turned to the reigning World Cup champion New Zealand.

With the “Final in ‘14” hopes still alive, the goals rapidly changed to beating the Black Ferns and hopefully gaining a bonus point in the process.

For Baggetta, the keys to beating New Zealand are “our ability to maintain possession of the ball, winning our set pieces, [and] closing down the time and space on defense.”

However, a surprise shocked the World Cup and particularly Pool B. In the game shortly after USA-Kazakhstan, Ireland became only the second to defeat the Black Ferns in a World Cup match, winning 17-14.

Prior to Tuesday’s matchup, New Zealand had only lost to the Eagles during the 1991 World Cup (7-0).

When asked if that changed the mindset of the team, Baggetta quickly stated, “I’m not sure if it did too much for us.

“We knew from the time the pools were drawn that in order for us to advance to the semifinals, we would have to beat New Zealand,” said Baggetta after the Ireland-New Zealand match. “I think the Ireland win showed us that our preparation and analysis has been pretty accurate in terms of what we need to do to win.”

Because of that focus, the goals of winning and hopefully gaining a bonus point in the process have not changed the mood of the team.

“The mood is very positive and loose, but also focused on what we need to do in the next match,” Baggetta finished. “I think our preparation and mindset is that we prepare for the next game and that all we focus on is one game at a time.”

Kickoff for the Eagles’ contest against New Zealand is set for 12:00 P.M. ET Saturday.

The U.S. is currently tied for second in Pool B with New Zealand. Each has six points following a win and two bonus points through two matches.

Both need to win for a chance to move to the semifinal round of the World Cup.