Tireless Eagles down England at HSBC Sydney7s

SYDNEY, Australia - The Women's Eagles Sevens secured their first big-name scalp of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series in a 22-14 defeat of England Thursday (U.S. time) at HSBC Sydney7s.

Captain Alev Kelter scored two second-half tries as the U.S. sought its first win of the second leg of the season following a Pool C-opening loss to Russia at Allianz Stadium. Head Coach Richie Walker's squad currently sits in third in pool play with a final matchup against Spain set to determine its day two fate. The final match of pool play is scheduled for a 1:54 a.m. ET kickoff on The Rugby Channel.

Ranked fourth on the circuit after Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, England began the match with ball in hand despite Kelter and Kristen Thomas being the first two players on the field to touch the ball. The captain's restart was tipped by the speedster, but it bounced into the path of England captain Abbie Brown for a 70-meter run for the try.

The Eagles were gifted their own possession from the ensuing restart as the kick found touch. Naya Tapper, who scored both of the Eagles' tries against Russia, single-handedly bulldozed through three defenders on the attacking side of the field before the U.S. swung it out to Cheta Emba. Emba had Thomas in support out wide, and faked a run through the gain line to allow Thomas the space to bring the score to 7-5 in favor of England.

Trying to pile onto the momentum, the Eagles defended their restart well to earn a midfield lineout and subsequent penalty. Deciding to slow play down for another lineout further down the field, the U.S. was undone in the set piece as Heather Fisher claimed the loose throw to run to the uprights.

Down, 14-5, the Eagles again were given a free tap at midfield from England's botched restart. Kelly Griffin took some stopping before Kelter and Nicole Heavirland supported each other over the course of 40 meters, finishing the lethal attack with a try by Heavirland. The play brought the halftime score to 14-10 as the Eagles failed to convert their five-point scores.

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Walker confirmed his team's play as equal to its opponent's, and instructed his charges to "empty the tank" in the final seven minutes. They did just that, keeping England to its own side of the field for the majority of the second half without conceding scoring opportunities.

Despite mishandling the ball in the early minutes of the half, the Eagles pushed forward to set up shop in the attacking third of the field. Tapper knocked down an England pass as the Roses sought an exit and the U.S. was awarded a scrum in the 11th minute in advantageous territory. Inside the 22, Kelter sent a grubber a few meters behind the England defense destined for Tapper. Though England got to the ball first, Tapper knocked it loose from the breakdown for Kelter to take to the in-goal area for the U.S.'s first lead at 15-14.

With just a minute or so remaining on the clock, England committed a cardinal sin in attempting to play Kelter's restart prior to it traveling 10 meters. The ball was taken to within 10 meters of the try line by the hard-charging Tapper before the Eagles moved the ball back towards the posts. There, Kelter muscled her way over the try line to give the Eagles some breathing space at 22-14. The restart was kicked with four seconds on the game clock, and bounced in play before rolling into touch to bring about the final whistle.

The U.S. trails Russia and England in the pool standings with four points and a minus-one point differential. The final Pool C matchup against Spain - set to kick off at 1:54 a.m. ET on The Rugby Channel - and the England-Russia result on the other side of the pool will determine whether or not the Eagles reach the Cup Quarterfinals.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. England
1. Cheta Emba
2. Kristen Thomas
3. Kelly Griffin
4. Ryan Carlyle
5. Nicole Heavirland
6. Alev Kelter(C)
7. Naya Tapper
8. Kate Zackary
9. Joanne Fa'avesi
10. Kayla Canett
11. Hope Rogers
12. Sarah Buonopane

England | v. USA
1. Natasha Brennan
2. Abbie Brown
3. Alice Richardson
4. Emily Wood
5. Lauren Cattell
6. Rachael Woosey
7. Heather Fisher
8. Kelly Smith
9. Fran Matthews
10. Joanne Watmore
11. Katie Mason
12. Chantelle Miell

Women's Eagles Sevens | 22
Tries: Thomas, Heavirland, Kelter (2)
Conversions: Kelter

England | 14
Tries: Brown, Fisher
Conversions: Cattell (2)

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Sydney7s
v. Russia - L 19-10
v. England - W 22-14
v. Spain - Friday, Feb. 3 @ 1:54 a.m. ET