Super Series ends with England victory

SALT LAKE CITY - The 2016 Women's Rugby Super Series concluded at Regional Athletic Complex Saturday with England securing a final, 39-13, victory over the Women's Eagles.

The U.S. finishes the tournament winless following earlier defeats to France and Canada, with the border rival the only undefeated team, winning the tournament title. The Eagles were coached by Associate Head Coach Peter Baggetta in the build-up to and during Saturday's match as a warm-up to the upcoming Fall Tour, during which Head Coach Pete Steinberg will be away from the team due to personal commitments.

The Eagles had pointed to the England matchup throughout the Series, hoping to improve in each performance to finish on a high in the final match. The Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 Champion, defeated only by fellow Cup Finalist Canada in Utah, had other ideas.

Despite heavy resistance from the Eagles, who made their one-on-one tackles from their own opening restart, England was able to move down the field through penalties called against the U.S. as well as effective set-piece- and open-play movements. It took just four minutes to open the scoring as an England lineout maul, contained by the home side, spun the ball out for the backs to use quick hands to Lydia Thompson in space on the wing.

Not long before the try, the Eagles had put fly half Amber Reed on her back with a tremendous hit, forcing England to insert reserve Leanne Riley into an important position.

As much as the Eagles kept themselves out of the try zone, they did well to take the ball from England at crucial points in the match. Unfortunately for Baggetta and co., those turnovers were not turned into meaningful points on the scoreboard.

Fly half Kimber Rozier kicked the Eagles onto the scoresheet with five minutes remaining in the half to draw within seven points at 10-3, but England still had time to extend the lead before the halftime whistle for a 15-3 lead.

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"We played well in stretches, but we didn't finish," Baggetta said post-match. "You can't really look at the game and say a player didn't perform well. I think we, as coaches, need to do a better job of preparing players to make better decisions in those critical moments. If the players make poor decisions or they don't execute, we have to look internally and ask what we need to do better to prepare the players."

Two minutes into the second frame, an England lineout five meters from the line turned into another seven points for the World Cup Champion. As the ball came down and the Eagles prepared for a maul, Harriet Millar-Mills spun the ball out to Alex Matthews, who ran through one attempted tackle before beating full back Jess Wooden at the try zone.

Alycia Washington had several strong runs throughout her 80 minutes on the field Saturday, knocking over three or four defenders in the middle of the field in the 51st minute to set Saskia Morgan away on the wing. The attack ended with a knock, but the Eagles won the ball back in the attacking end minutes later for Rozier to bring the score to 22-6.

Pennsylvania State University sophomore Tess Feury made her debut in the final 20 minutes of the match, after England reserve scrum half Millie Wood hit a gap at the 22 with a burst of speed to increase England's lead to 27-6.

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It was 39-6 heading into the final five minutes of the match, when the Eagles had one of their best attacking movements of the match. Washington, a nuisance on both sides of the ball, was rewarded and rewarded her team for its hard work by taking a tap five meters from the line and keeping her hands free to be able to place the ball on the grass for a 33-13 final score.

"I think you saw, in bits and pieces, an attacking structure that allows us to move the ball and attack through the spaces," Baggetta said. "I thought we played, at times, some exciting rugby. There was some nice offloading, nice running lines; we saw glimpses of that.

"What we didn't have is enough consistency with that attacking play and enough consistency with taking care of the ball. Once again, it's incumbent on us as coaches to find out what we need to do better to prepare the team."

Women's Eagles | v. England
1. Catherine Benson
2. Kathryn Augustyn
3. Hope Rogers
4. Stacey Bridges (C)
5. Alycia Washington
6. Christiane Pheil
7. Elizabeth Cairns
8. Jordan Gray
9. Jennifer Lui
10. Kimberly Rozier
11. Naya Tapper
12. Sylvia Braaten
13. Nate Serevi
14. Saskia Morgan
15. Jessica Wooden

Women's Eagles | Reserves
16. Samantha Pankey
17. Tiffany Faaee
18. Jamila Reinhardt
19. Molly Kinsella
20. Nicole Strasko
21. Deven Owsiany
22. Megan Foster
23. Tess Feury

England | v. USA
1. Victoria Cornborough
2. Amy Cokayne
3. Laura Keates
4. Harriet Millar-Mills
5. Tamara Taylor
6. Alex Matthews
7. Izzy Noel-Smith
8. Sarah Hunter (C)
9. Bianca Blackburn
10. Amber Reed
11. Lotte Clapp
12. Ceri Large
13. Lauren Cattell
14. Lydia Thompson
15. Fiona Pocock

England | Reserves
16. Lark Davies
17. Rochelle Clark
18. Sarah Bern
19. Zoe Aldcroft
20. Poppy Leitch
21. Leanne Riley
22. Millie Wood
23. Katie Mason

Women's Eagles | Women's Rugby Super Series
v. France - L 19-13
v. Canada - L 33-5
v. England - L 39-13