Stingy Eagles keep Fiji out of Clermont-Ferrand Plate Final

CLERMONT-FERRAND, France - The final round of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series may very well end with hardware for the Women's Eagles Sevens following a 14-12 Plate Semifinal victory at HSBC Clermont-Ferrand Sevens Sunday.

Kristen Thomas scored her first try of the tournament in the win and contributed to a hardened defensive effort from all of Richie Walker's Eagles to stem the Fijian attack throughout 14 minutes. The U.S. will play France in the Plate Final at 1:07 p.m. ET, with the live broadcast available on The Rugby Channel.

After a Cup Quarterfinal defeat in which the Eagles failed to score until it was too late in the second half, Thomas went over the line in style in the opening minute of the Plate Semifinal. A first-up tackle from Jillion Potter preceded turnover ball, and Thomas received it on the wing before beating three defenders to the try zone. The centered dot-down gave Bui Baravilala an easy conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Baravilala was nearly exposed at the back in the next minute as Ana Maria Roqica sent a chip overhead into space not 20 meters from the uprights. The Fijian could not handle the bounce, leaving the score at 7-0.

With the ball now in the U.S. half, Fiji pressured the Eagles' attack, forcing a few wayward passes. One such pass from Lilly Durbin missed a teammate, and Merewai Cumu only had to jump on the ball to level the score at 7-7.

The teams remained tied at halftime, with Jessica Javelet breaking the deadlock in the ninth minute. The Eagles kept the ball from the restart, though they were forced backwards well behind their 22. Baravilala and Javelet combined on a wrap-around play, incorporating the strong running of Jillion Potter on the wing and the speed and evasiveness of Javelet for the 80-meter try. Though the try was not close to the uprights, Baravilala made easy work of the conversion for a 14-7 lead.

Fiji enjoyed time with possession in the second half and looked for the typical Fijian attacking angles, but the Eagles were tenacious on defense to counter the opportunities and penalty troubles thrown at them. One penalty in the 12th minute allowed a quick tap near the U.S. 22, and Roqica had just enough pace to dot down in the corner through Richelle Stephens' tackle. The conversion attempt hit the crossbar and bounced out, however, and the Eagles kicked the ball out at full time to win, 14-12.

The Plate Final, kicking off at 1:07 p.m. ET on The Rugby Channel, will be the U.S.'s final match of the Series prior to the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Fiji
1. Jillion Potter
2. Kathryn Johnson
3. Carmen Farmer
4. Kelly Griffin
5. Kristen Thomas
6. Lilly Durbin
7. Richelle Stephens
8. Bui Baravilala
9. Ryan Carlyle
10. Alev Kelter
11. Jessica Javelet
12. Victoria Folayan

Fiji | v. USA
1. Ebony Satala
2. Jiowana Sauto
3. Talica Vodo
4. Asena Tokomarama
5. Brittany Coates
6. Rebecca Tavo
7. Rusila Nagasau
8. Merewai Cumu
9. Ana Maria Roqica
10. Viniana Riwai
11. Miriama Naiobasali
12. Luisa Basei Tisolo

Women's Eagles Sevens | 14
Tries: Thomas, Javelet
Conversions: Baravilala (2)

Fiji | 12
Tries: Cumu, Rowica
Conversions: Tisolo

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Clermont-Ferrand Sevens
v. England - L 26-7
v. Spain - L 12-10
v. Kenya - W 31-0
Cup QF v. England - L 21-12
Plate SF v. Fiji - W 14-12
Plate Final v. France - Sunday, May 29 @ 1:07 p.m. ET