Eagles ready to end World Cup campaign on high note

An unchanged backline will take the field for a fourth consecutive match together, but anticipate reserves Kayla Canett, Tess Feury and Jessica Javelet to get a solid run, too.

BELFAST, Ireland - The Women's Eagles who'll attempt to end its 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup campaign with a victory and third-place finish have been selected to face France Saturday, Aug. 26 starting at noon ET from Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.

Hope Rogers, who has injected herself into the starting lineup in place of fellow Penn State University graduate Catie Benson, will prop alongside captain Tiffany Faaee, while Katy Augustyn will make her fourth start of the tournament at hooker.

Stacey Bridges and Alycia Washington remain in the engine room where they've performed quite well. Abby Gustaitis, meanwhile, will get the start in the No. 6 jumper. The utility forward started at lock in the Eagles' shutout victory over Spain and scored a try after coming on as a reserve during the team's World Cup opening win against Italy, but will join Jordan Gray and Sara Parsons in the loose forwards Saturday versus France, supplying the Eagles with their largest starting forward pack of the tournament. Christiane Pheil will have an opportunity to make her World Cup debut as backrow coverage from the bench.

A single change has been penciled-in to a backline that had played three consecutive matches together heading into the Third-Place game against France. Kayla Canett takes the place of a banged-up Kimber Rozier at fly half, while backline reserves Tess Fuery, Jessica Javelet and Jessica Wooden will wait to make an impact from the bench. Rozier's form and experience had been too valuable to take her off the pitch thus far in the tournament, making the 19-year old Canett's only previous playing time in the World Cup at the scrum half position.

 Michael Lee

"We've lost a couple of players through injury, but that gives other players a chance to step up. Kayla Cannet is going to get her first play at ten, which is her natural position and we're excited to see her there," said Head Coach Pete Steinberg. "And it gives some of our other players who've been eager to compete a chance to step out and compete, so we're excited to do that."

After coasting to a perfect 3-0 record out of Pool C in which the French beat their opposition by an average of 38 points per contest, France was topped by England this past Tuesday, 20-3, in the World Cup Semifinals. France owns an all-time winning record against the Eagles, having beaten the United States eight times over 11 previous fixtures that included one tie. The French are currently riding a five-match winning streak over the Eagles, most recently defeating the United States, 39-5, nine months ago in Montpelier.

"We know what we need to do against France. We need to have solid set pieces, we need to hold onto the ball in contact, and we need to apply pressure on defense with some good line speed," Steinberg detailed. "And we feel like if we can do that, we're able to compete. Our goal has always been to play our best game in the fifth game of the World Cup, and I think we're ready to do that."

Saturday's contest to determine which nation will place third in the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup starts at noon ET, and will be streamed live on NBC Sports Gold's Rugby Pass, while @USARugby will be providing live updates throughout the match on Twitter.

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

USA Women's Eagles | Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 Coaching Staff

Pete Steinberg - Head Coach

Peter Baggetta - Associate Head Coach

Richie Walker - Assistant Coach

Liz Kirk - Assistant Coach

Richard Ashfield - Assistant Coach

Ian Gibbons - Head of Physical Performance

Katie Gloyer - Physician

Michelle Look - Physician

Amy Valenta - Physiotherapist

Sarah Leslie - Physiotherapist

Bri Arsenault - Physiotherapist

Caitlin Singletary - Video Analyst

Julie Sutcliffe - Sports Psychologist

Amie Kern - Assistant Manager & Massage Therapist

Roshna Wunderlich - Manager