Last-minute penalty secures win against Australia, rematch with New Zealand at WRWC

PARIS, France – It was “do or die” Wednesday for an opportunity to play for fifth place at the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup as the Women’s Eagles went head-to-head with the Australian Wallaroos at the Center for National Rugby in Marcoussis.

Wet field conditions proved to be an issue for the Eagles early in the match as the Aussies struck fast and first with a try and a conversion in the second minute of the match due to a miscue in ball handling in the Eagles’ attack.

The Aussies pulled away in the first-half scoring, 12 points to a sparse three points for the Eagles.

The second half was a better chapter as the Eagles charged out different and inspired.

“We were pretty disappointed with the first half and I told them that,” Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg said. “We got together as a coaching staff and decided it wasn’t the technical stuff that was going to do it (win). We really had to get after them and we had to challenge them. I challenged the team to be more aggressive and have more fire, and the second half was pretty impressive.”

The Eagles turned a messy first half into all-out dominance in the second with a try in the 42nd minute from forward Jillion Potter. This set the tone for the Eagles to chip away at the score deficit. Huge forward defensive hits coupled with an extensive back attack proved to be too much for the Wallaroos’ defense.

“Fitness was a big key for us today,” Steinberg said. “At the end, we were ready to play more, and they were hurting a bit.”

The Eagles camped-out in Aussie territory for most of the second half, wearing down an already porous Aussie defense with punishing go-forward from all angles. Australia remained in the lead, 20-13, before the tide turned.

Then, in the 68th minute, the Wallaroos’ defense crumbled under the weight of the Eagles’ attack that pushed wide off of a scrum inside the Aussie 22-meter line and showed space for Vanesha McGee to get the try just left of the goal posts. Rozier converted to tie the match at 20-20.

At the 78th minute, the Aussies committed a not-rolling-away penalty deep in their own half, giving the Eagles an opportunity to kick for the win. Rozier chipped the penalty kick through the uprights to break the tie and give the Eagles a three-point lead.

On the subsequent kickoff, with two minutes left, the Aussies charged down deep into Eagles territory, putting pressure on the Eagles’ defense. Several pick-and-gos created a defensive penalty against the Eagles, giving the Aussies a chance to tie the match.

On the eve of Jamie Burke’s 50th cap, the air was heavy with tension as the deadly Aussie penalty striker, Ashleigh Hewson, pushed the match-tying kick from inside the 22-meter line wide right. Referee Jessica Beard blew the whistle following the miss, signaling full time.

The Eagles will play New Zealand in the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris Sunday in the battle for fifth place to close out the World Cup. Kickoff from the stadium is scheduled for 8:15 A.M. ET.

Universal Sports will air the fifth-place match on delay beginning at 6:00 P.M. ET Sunday.

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Women's Eagles | v Australia

1. Sarah Chobot

2. Kathryn Augustyn (Wagner @ 74')

3. Jamie Burke (Rogers @ 54')

4. Carmen Farmer

At the end, we were ready to play more, and they were hurting a bit.

6. Shaina Turley(C)

7. Lynelle Kugler

8. Jillion Potter

9. Jocelyn Tseng

10. Hannah Stolba (Rozier @ 51')

11. Nathalie Marchino

12. Emilie Bydwell

13. Akalaini "Bui" Baravilala

14. Sadie Anderson (McGee @ 31')

15. Meya Bizer

Women's Eagles | Reserves

16. Kittery Wagner

17. Hope Rogers

18. Sharon Blaney

19. Lauren Daly

20. Caroline White

21. Vanesha McGee

22. Kimberly Rozier

Australia | Starting XV

1. Liz Patu (Watson @ 64')

2. Louise Burrows

3. Oneata Schwalger (Hipwell @ 77')

4. Rebecca Clough

5. Alisha Hewett

6. Shannon Parry (C)

7. Rebecca Smyth (Milward @ 49')

8. Mollie Gray (Dennison @ 38')

9. Nita Maynard

10. Tui Ormsby

11. Cobie-Jane Morgan (Haines @ 69')

12. Hanna Sio

13. Sharni Williams

14. Tricia Brown

15. Ashleigh Hewson

Australia | Reserves

16. Margaret Watson

17. Angela Hipwell

18. Michelle Milward

19. Dalena Dennison

20. Ashley Marsters

21. Natasha Haines

22. Madeline Putz

Women's Eagles | 23

Tries: Potter, Bizer, McGee

Conversions: Rozier

Penalties: Anderson, Rozier

Australia | 20

Tries: Parry, Cobie-Jane, N/A

Conversions: Hewson

Penalties: Hewson

Women's Eagles | IRB Women's Rugby World Cup 2014

v New Zealand - Sunday, Aug. 17 - 8:15 A.M. ET