Second-half surge sees Eagles over Russia in Brazil

SÃO PAULO, Brazil - Hunter Griendling scored her first HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series try for the Women's Eagles Sevens Saturday in a 19-10 defeat of Russia at Brazil Women's Sevens.

The victory was the first for the U.S. at Arena Barueri following the morning's loss to New Zealand, and just the second win in seven matches on the circuit under Jules McCoy. The Eagles will finish pool play against Spain at 3:18 p.m. ET with a spot in Sunday's Cup Quarterfinals on the line.

The U.S. struggled to find possession against New Zealand, which had controlled the restarts throughout their matchup and did the same in its defeat of Spain at the end of the second round of pool play, but did not have to deal with that against Russia. The Russians did not contend the kickoffs, instead sending the ball deep into the Eagles' half.

The opening kickoff rolled into touch and the Eagles were forced to play defense, eventually leading to a yellow card to Megan Bonny for an illegal tackle. Arina Bystrova dotted down over the try line through Alev Kelter's tackle for a third-minute, 5-0, deficit.

Kristen Thomas was unable to showcase her speed in the team's first match in Brazil and again found herself taken into touch before she could beat a defender at midfield in the fifth minute. Bonny stole the ensuing lineout, however, and a run from Kelter set up the Eagles in scoring position for Bui Baravilala to finish in-goal.

The score remained level at 5-5 at the half with neither team succeeding in its conversions, but, like they did in their first matchup, the Eagles came out of the break with more energetic intent. A lengthy spell of possession for Russia went backwards, eventually far enough for Thomas to win the ball for her team. Jillion Potter kept play alive after the ball fell to the ground, and popped a pass up to Kelter in front of the uprights for the go-ahead score.

The 12-5 score line did not last long, as Potter won the ensuing restart and found debutant Griendling, who made one step to beat a defender to the inside. Her first try and first conversion extended the lead to 19-5 with three minutes remaining in the match.

The Eagles could have used a few more points to counter the point differential gap in the table, but their display on defense was more than enough for McCoy. Russia gassed itself trying to get past the Eagles in its own half for successive minutes, with Marina Kukina's fend around midfield good enough for only a dozen or so meters before the tackle. Penalties in the breakdown did lead to Russia's final try, however, a dot-down in the corner by Anna Gavrilyuk to bring the final score to 19-10.

The U.S. sits in second in Pool B heading into its final match of day one against Spain. A win would see the Eagles through to the Cup Quarterfinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:18 p.m. ET from Arena Barueri, with World Rugby's website providing the live stream.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Russia

1. Megan Bonny

2. Kelly Griffin (C)

3. Jillion Potter

4. Alev Kelter

5. Bui Baravilala

6. Kristen Thomas

7. Jessica Javelet

8. Ashley Perry

9. Ryan Carlyle

10. Joanne Fa'avesi

11. Rachel Griendling

12. Naya Tapper

Russia | v. USA

1. Daria Bobkova

2. Arina Bystrova

3. Ekaterina Bankerova

4. Zhanna Matveeva

5. Anna Gavrilyuk

6. Daria Lushina

7. Daria Fefelova

8. Marina Kukina

9. Maria Shemchuk

10. Ekaterina Kazakova

11. Yulia Ledovskaya

12. Elena Zdrokova

Women's Eagles Sevens | 19

Tries: Baravilala, Kelter, Griendling

Conversions: Kelter, Griendling

Russia | 10

Tries: Bystrova, Gavrilyuk

Conversions: N/A

Women's Eagles Sevens | Brazil Women's Sevens

v. New Zealand - L 35-5

v. Russia - W 19-10

v. Spain - Saturday, Feb. 20 @ 3:18 p.m. ET