Eagles fly into Sydney Cup Quarterfinals

SYDNEY, Australia - The Women's Eagles Sevens finished pool play at HSBC Sydney7s Friday with a 2-1 record following a 20-5 defeat of Spain at Allianz Stadium.

Despite an apparent injury to Kristen Thomas and a sin-bin session for Cheta Emba, Head Coach Richie Walker's team received a player-of-the-match performance from debutant Hope Rogers in just a few minutes to turn the tide against Las Leones. With Russia's win against England, the U.S. qualifies for the Cup Quarterfinals as the second seed out of Pool C. Matchup and broadcast information on The Rugby Channel for the knockout stages will be confirmed Friday (U.S. time).

Heading into the final clash of the day at 1-1 after a confidence-building victory over England, the Eagles looked to begin the match on the front foot. Alev Kelter helped put the ball in U.S. hands with a drawn penalty from the restart, and Naya Tapper continued to utilize her strengths in power and speed to push the attack forward. The Eagles sent the ball wide inside midfield, where Kristen Thomas stretched her legs along the touch line for the opening score and 5-0 lead.

On the very next possession, Thomas fell awkwardly attempting to enter a ruck and required a replacement. Before play could be halted for the substitution, however, Spain made its way down the field with the assistance of several penalties called against the Eagles. Following two whistles in quick succession, Emba was sent to the bin and a tap led to Iera Echebarria taking advantage of the space on the field for the 5-5 score.

The Eagles held off their opposition with one less player on the field and took the even score line into the break. Already forced into one substitution, Walker inserted Women's Rugby World Cup veteran Rogers into the seven-player game. The U.S. wasted no time in putting the ball in the XVs prop's hands, and the front-rower proved difficult to stop. An initial run on the Eagles' side of midfield was slowed momentarily as Rogers picked up the ball from the ground and continued through several defenders before offloading to Nicole Heavirland. Heavirland drew a final defender near the Spanish 22 and found Joanne Fa'avesi in support for the match-winning try to make it 10-5.

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There were still six minutes on the clock, and the Eagles made them count to help their Pool C point differential. Rogers assisted Spain's ninth-minute knock and then brought the Eagles within a few meters of the try line, where Kelter's juke and broken tackle extended the lead to 15-5. Tapper had her sights set on a third try of the weekend after Emba won the ensuing restart, but her one-handed dot-down attempt resulted in a knock in-goal.

Though Spain could only kick the ball into touch with the five-meter scrum win, the Eagles fumbled possession away in the final minutes before Tapper put the finishing touches on the match with seconds to spare for a 20-5 final.

With portions of the day two schedule set for Kiddox Oval during the men's tournament and the higher-seeded women's bracket intermittent at Allianz Stadium, there may be broadcast blackouts from Sydney7s Friday (U.S. time). More information will be made available closer to kickoff of the knockout rounds.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Spain
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

Spain | v. USA
1. Berta Garcia
2. Olivia Fresneda
3. Amaia Erbina
4. Patricia Garcia
5. Uri Barrutieta
6. Sabina Hurtado
7. Barbara Pla
8. Cristina Song
9. Maria Casado
10. Anne Fernandez
11. Iera Echebarria
12. Maria Ribera

Women's Eagles Sevens | 20
Tries: Thomas, Fa'avesi, Kelter, Tapper
Conversions: N/A

Spain | 5
Tries: Echebarria
Conversions: N/A

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Sydney7s
v. Russia - L 19-10
v. England - W 22-14
v. Spain - W 20-5
Cup QFs - Friday, Feb. 3 @ 6:22 p.m. ET