Eagles fall to France, settle for 4th-Place finish at World Cup

The Eagles 2017 Women’s World Cup squad undoubtedly proved the program belongs on the pitch with the best teams in the world, but also inspired a nation with its gutsy Semifinal performance against the New Zealand Black Ferns live on cable television.

BELFAST, Ireland - France managed to stay a step ahead of the Eagles on its way to a 31-23 victory over the United States to claim a Bronze Medal in the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup.

The Eagles owned the lion's share of possession throughout the opening exchanges of the first half. The time with ball in-hand finally paid off in the 17th-minute when the United States pointed for posts following a French penalty, and drew first blood off Alev Kelter's right boot, 3-0.

France didn't need much time with the ball to produce its first try. Lock Lenaig Corson, who would go on to be named Player of the Match, awaited a pass on the wing and burst over the line for five points. Montserrat Amedee didn't connect on the conversion, but would be successful 10 minutes later after flanker Marjorie Mayans scored. Mayans didn't have much work left to do in order to score France's second try after outside center Carla Neisen sliced through the Eagles defense thanks to a pair of well-timed dumby passes.

A third French try and second successful conversion had the Americans facing a 19-3 deficit going into halftime. However, the Eagles forced a French penalty and won a lineout on their own 5-meter line. After a number of determined pick-and-goes by the forwards, Abby Gustaitis used her long reach to dot down beyond the try line for her second score of the tournament. Kelter added two more points and the United States went into the break trailing 19-10.

Six minutes into the second period, Kelter kept the scoreboard ticking with another penalty kick, 19-13. France, meanwhile, made more of its possessions throughout the match. After marching its way inside the Eagles 22-meter line, French scrum half Jade Le Pesq spotted space on the weak side of a ruck, and sprawled ahead from five meters out to score a try and extend her team's lead to 24-13.

Flanker Julie Annery was the recipient of Franch's fifth and final try, but the Eagles closed out their World Cup campaign in fine form. Reserve prop Jamila Reinhardt made an impact off the bench, Naya Tapper continued to run hard and the entire squad seemed to get touches on the ball as the Eagles played with confidence in the match's final 15 minutes. Confidence would turn into points when Jessica Javelet nullified a French kick that found Kelter's hands. The inside center raced 50 meters before handing off to Cheta Emba to finish the try. Kelter's successful conversion from out wide was impressive, but the last points of the tournament, as the Eagles conceded the Bronze Medal to France, 31-23.

The defeat to France draws an end to a brave and impressive World Cup performance for the Eagles. After getting off to a 2-0 start, the United States lost three consecutive matches - to the three sides that will finished the tournament ranked No. 1 though 3. The fourth-place finish is the best World Cup result for the Men's or Women's Eagles since the Women finished second in 1998.

The Eagles 2017 Women's World Cup squad undoubtedly proved the program belongs on the pitch with the best teams in the world, but also inspired a nation with its gutsy Semifinal performance against the New Zealand Black Ferns live on cable television.

USA Women's Eagles | v. France
1. Hope Rogers
2. Katy Augustyn
3. Tiffany Faaee (C)
4. Stacey Bridges
5. Alycia Washington
6. Abby Gustaitis
7. Sara Parsons
8. Jordan Gray
9. Deven Owsiany
10. Kayla Canett-Oca
11. Kristen Thomas
12. Alev Kelter
13. Nicole Heavirland
14. Naya Tapper
15. Cheta Emba(VC)

USA Women's Eagles | Reserves
16. Samantha Pankey
17. Jamila Reinhardt
18. Naima Reddick
19. Nick James
20. Christiane Pheil
21. Jessica Wooden
22. Tess Feury
23. Jessica Javelet