Women’s Eagles Sevens undefeated through three matches at Toronto 2015

TORONTO – The Women’s Eagles Sevens will go into the final two matches of round robin play at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games Sunday likely to make the Final after an undefeated day one.

Ric Suggitt’s Team USA beat three nations already qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. The Eagles’ first match, against HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series core team and Olympic host Brazil, ended in a 26-7 victory.

Brazil’s lone try was scored less than three minutes from time to bring the score to 19-7.

“Giving up a try in a three-score game with two minutes remaining creates a nervous feeling,” Suggitt said. “I thought we were fortunate to come away with a couple good runs and then hold them off to the end.

“Going into the Brazil game, I thought it was going to be a scrappy affair. They’re really good around the breakdown and around the tackle area. We survived it today. We didn’t play as well as we could’ve, we didn’t move the ball away quick enough, and we didn’t get the ball to the edges of the park quick enough.

“I thought we stayed in third gear all day. A couple of times we sputtered from third to fourth but we never really found our running today. I told [Assistant Coach Richie Walker], ‘It was like they were slipping in mud.’ Once we run the way we’re capable of running and hit the spots we do in training, we’re dangerous.”

The Eagles shut out Colombia, 40-0, in their second match at Exhibition Stadium. Kristen Thomas recorded a hat trick of tries and Kelly Griffin, Kathryn Johnson, and Alev Kelter combined to convert five of the six scores.

“Canada played Colombia first and I talked to [Canada Head Coach John Tait] between our matches,” Suggitt said. “He said they’re as physical as Brazil at the breakdown. There was a period there for two-and-a-half minutes we didn’t score there.”

Thomas brought her try-scoring tally to six with two scores against Argentina in the Eagles’ 54-7 win, though the South Americans found the try zone first.

“Argentina deserved that try,” Suggitt said. “They held the ball for 90 seconds. We couldn’t tackle a wet paper bag in that game. Our arms were way too high, reaching like Frankenstein. They were bumping us off.

“We needed to win three games today. The really important one for me was the very first one. Brazil’s on the circuit, they’re scrappy, they’re tough. After that one I told the girls to smile. Be humble and not big-headed, but smile.”

Sunday’s Final will be determined via seeding at the end of the five-match round robin. The Eagles will lead off day two at 10:49 a.m. ET against Mexico, which fell to the U.S. in a heavy defeat in the 2015 NACRA Sevens Championships Final. In a likely Toronto 2015 Gold Medal Match preview, the U.S. will take on tournament host Canada at 1:33 p.m. ET.

“You never want to lose to the Canucks,” Suggitt said. “But what do you give up to win that game so that you don’t lose the next one?

“We have to give them a new look. They’re pretty familiar with us. Once you play that many games against each other you have to come up with a few wrinkles. You have to mask some of the things that you’re doing and see if you can add some deception to it.

“We’re going to go out to win both games. That’s why the fans come. They want to see us play up to our potential every time we’re out there.”

Women's Eagles Sevens | Toronto 2015 Pan American Games

1. Megan Bonny

2. Kelly Griffin

3. Joanne Fa'avesi

4. Alev Kelter

5. Richelle Stephens

6. Lauren Doyle

7. Kristen Thomas

8. Hannah Lopez

9. Melissa Fowler

10. Irene Gardner

11. Kate Zackary

12. Kathryn Johnson

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Brazil (W26-7)

Tries: Thomas, Zackary, Bonny, Griffin

Conversions: Kelter (3)

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Colombia (W 40-0)

Tries: Zackary, Doyle, Thomas (3), Lopez

Conversions: Kelter (3), Griffin, Johnson

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Argentina (W 54-7)

Tries: Thomas (2), Fa'avesi, Doyle, Kelter, Johnson, Lopez, Gardner

Conversions: Kelter (5), Johnson (2)

Women's Eagles Sevens | Toronto 2015 Pan American Games

v. Brazil - W 26-7

v. Colombia - W 40-0

v. Argentina - W 54-7

v. Mexico - Sunday, July 12 - 10:49 a.m. ET

v. Canada - Sunday, July 12 - 1:33 p.m. ET