Black Ferns continue unbeaten run against Eagles on World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Victoria Folayan continued her try-scoring streak for the Women’s Eagles Sevens at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens Thursday with two against New Zealand, but the Black Ferns came out on top, 24-19.

In the fifth meeting between the two teams since the inaugural World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in 2012, the Eagles struck first. Alev Kelter took over scrum half duties for Ric Suggitt and booted the kickoff deep into New Zealand’s half. A strong chase by Kathryn Johnson led to a turnover in the breakdown, and creative play from Kelter and captain Kelly Griffin set up Jessica Javelet for the opening try.

New Zealand won the previous four matchups on the circuit, including a 31-0 victory in pool play in Dubai last season, and showed why with a try two minutes later. Gayle Broughton received the ball within 15 meters of the try line following a scrum on the wing and beat Lauren Doyle in-goal. Despite the close proximity to the uprights, Tyla Nathan-Wong missed the conversion to keep the Eagles ahead, 7-5.

Doyle kept Portia Woodman out of the try zone in the seventh minute but could not replicate the stop before the halftime whistle, as the Black Fern put her side in the lead with a late try.

Suggitt’s instructions at the half were clear: play like the first three minutes and a win will be in reach. Down by just three points, the Eagles again started on the front foot.

Kelter grabbed the restart on the hop to give the Eagles an attacking platform, but a few turnovers by both teams kept either from seriously threatening in danger areas until the ninth minute. Griffin had little time to make a pass in her own half, but a quick pop to an in-stride Javelet was all that was necessary. The speedster raced through the New Zealand defense to the 22, where the awaiting sweeper forced the field hockey player to find another option. Folayan presented herself and made the support count with a try between the sticks.

Villines’ conversion put the Eagles back in the lead at 14-10, but two tries in three minutes from New Zealand’s Sarah Goss and Ruby Tui sealed the match for the Black Ferns. The Eagles did not quit, however, and, knowing that every point matters, found a last-second try through Folayan to lessen the point differential between the teams.

The Eagles will finish pool play at 7he Sevens against China, who has only scored one try and conceded 14 in two matches. With a win, the Eagles will likely reach the Cup round of the competition as opposed to the Bowl competition. More standings points will be earned should they reach the Cup Quarterfinals, an important factor in this year’s Olympic-qualifying Series.

Watch the Eagles and China Thursday at 8:36 a.m. ET on World Rugby’s website and follow @USARugby on Twitter for live match updates.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v New Zealand
1. Kelly Griffin
2. Amelia Villines
3. Kathryn Johnson
4. Hannah Lopez
5. Jessica Javelet
6. Lauren Doyle
7. Victoria Folayan
8. Lorrie Clifford
9. Megan Bonny
10. Joanne Faavesi
11. Alev Kelter
12. Melissa Fowler

New Zealand | v USA
1. Ruby Tui
2. Carla Hohepa
3. Hazel Tubic
4. Jordon Webber
5. Sarah Goss
6. Gayle Broughton
7. Tyla Nathan-Wong
8. Kelly Brazier
9. Morgan Morrow
10. Charlott Arnopp-Scanlan
11. Portia Woodman
12. Shiray Tane

Women's Eagles Sevens | 19
Tries: Javelet, Folayan (2)
Conversions: Villines (2)

New Zealand | 24
Tries: Broughton, Woodman, Tui, Goss
Conversions: Nathan-Wong (2)

Women's Eagles Sevens | Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens
v China - Thursday, Dec. 4 - 8:36 a.m. ET