Eagles beat Russia for first win of World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Two tries from Victoria Folayan helped Ric Suggitt’s Women’s Eagles Sevens to a perfect start to the 2014-15 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Thursday at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens with a 17-12 defeat of Russia.

The fourth match of the day, the Eagles and Russia contested the first competitive meeting at 7he Sevens in Dubai. Each of the opening three matches were shutouts featuring at least five tries scored by the winning teams.

Russia held possession from the Eagles’ kickoff for two minutes but failed to gain midfield. Lauren Doyle pounced on a loose ball and sent a behind-the-back pass to Folayan, who fended one defender on the way to a 50-meter try.

With a 5-0 lead, the Eagles felt a swing in momentum and Jessica Javelet did her best to ensure it stayed that way by regaining possession from the restart. The Eagles swung the ball wide to the right wing, where Doyle escaped her support but not the Russian defender. She lost the ball into touch for a lineout to last year’s fifth-place team.

Russia struggled to get the ball out of its own end following the lineout win thanks to strong tackling from the Eagles, and a poor pass backwards bounced into the hands of an onrushing Alev Kelter. The former ice hockey player dove over the try line to extend the Eagles’ lead to 10-0.

Javelet did not get an opportunity to showcase the speed on offense that earned her 12 tries during the 2013-14 Series, but she was able to chase down an attacker in space just before the end of the half to save a try. Russia, however, switched play to the opposite wing, where Baizat Khamidova was left alone to cut the lead to 10-5.

The Eagles played well in the opening seven minutes, but more time with the ball was surely a priority for Suggitt’s players.

The second half began with Russia’s kickoff to Doyle, though the attack only lasted a few phases before a looping pass found touch instead of an Eagle. Russia won its lineout and lost the ball in the same manner.

The Eagles’ defense was tested throughout the final five minutes of the match and held strong save for a break by Marina Petrova in the 11th minute. Amelia Villines recovered the ball and a few quick passes to the wing set Folayan away for her second try. ‘Vix’ had two defenders to beat and made it look easy with a step and a fend.

Yulia Guzeva added an extra try for Russia in the final minute of the match to bring the final score to 17-12.

With this year’s Series set to determine four qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games, the first Olympics to include Rugby Sevens on the Games Programme, every match holds added significance. In a pool with China and New Zealand, the Eagles' defeat of Russia could be the difference between reaching the Cup Quarterfinals and the Bowl competition.

Watch the Eagles in their next match in Dubai against New Zealand at 5:40 a.m. ET on World Rugby’s website and follow live match updates on Twitter with @USARugby.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v Russia
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

Russia | v USA
1. Alena Bogacheva
2. Rusiet Edidzhi
3. Yulia Guzeva
4. Ekaterina Kazakova
5. Baizat Khamidova
6. Nadezda Kudinova
7. Marina Kukina
8. Anna Malygina
9. Anastasiya Mukharyamova
10. Marina Petrova
11. Kristina Seredina
12. Svetlana Usatykh

Women's Eagles Sevens | 17
Tries: Folayan (2), Kelter
Conversions: Villines

Russia | 12
Tries: Khamidova, Guzeva
Conversions: Kudinova

Women's Eagles Sevens | Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens
v New Zealand - Thursday, Dec. 4 - 5:40 a.m. ET
v China - Thursday, Dec. 4 - 8:36 a.m. ET