Cup Semifinals, New Zealand await Eagles in Sydney

SYDNEY, Australia - Naya Tapper scored her fourth and fifth tries of HSBC Sydney Sevens Friday (U.S. time) as the Women's Eagles Sevens beat Ireland, 17-5, in the Cup Quarterfinals.

The U.S. qualified for its first Cup Quarterfinal of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series with two wins in pool play and won its third consecutive match in Australia to set up a date with New Zealand. The Semifinal will kick off at Allianz Stadium at 10:04 p.m. ET Friday, and can be viewed live for free in the United States on The Rugby Channel.

It was a bumpy start for Ireland at Kippax Field, knocking the opening restart to give the Eagles the first possession. Captain Alev Kelter took the tap outside the attacking 22 and Ryan Carlyle continued the first phase to Tapper, who sent one defender to the ground before dotting down in-goal.

The same thing happened on the ensuing restart but penalties and mishandled passes plagued both teams for a few minutes. The Eagles drew a few too many whistles for Ireland to work its way into the attacking half, but watched its opponent's opportunity to tick the scoreboard go begging when Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe dropped a pass at the five-meter line.

The Eagles were unable to escape their 22 after losing the ensuing lineout, however, and Cheta Emba had to chase a kick into her own try zone. She and Tapper did combine to take the U.S. out to midfield, but a penalty in the breakdown and another 10 meters from the try line saw Murphy Crowe redeem herself for the match-leveling try as the half came to an end.

Hope Rogers provided the Eagles with the impetus to see off Spain in the final match of pool play and gave the Eagles another reason to hope for a Cup Final appearance with several strong runs in a short second-half stint. Louise Galvin was shown a yellow card in the eighth minute for a high tackle on Carlyle, and the Eagles wasted no time in spreading it out to Tapper for a 10-5 lead.

Rogers' shift ended with a set of tackles that drew a penalty deep in Ireland's half, but the rain betrayed Tapper in space for an Ireland scrum. She lost the ball forward again in the 12th minute, but benefitted from an Irish knock a phase later to bring the final score to 17-5.

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New Zealand crushed France, 24-5, in its own Quarterfinal to reach Friday's Semifinal against the U.S. The Eagles are guaranteed a top-four finish from the second round of the season, but will be focused on their 10:04 p.m. ET kickoff first and foremost. Sydney7s can be viewed live in the United States on The Rugby Channel.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Ireland
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

Ireland | v. USA
1. Katie Fitzhenry
2. Hannah Tyrrell
3. Stacey Flood
4. Megan Williams
5. Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe
6. Ashleigh Baxter
7. Louise Galvin
8. Chloe Blackmore
9. Lucy Mulhall
10. Kim Flood
11. Emma Murphy
12. Susan Vaughan

Women's Eagles Sevens | 17
Tries: Tapper (2), Kelter
Conversions: N/A

Ireland | 5
Tries: Murphy Crowe
Conversions: N/A
Discipine: Galvin (Yellow)

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Sydney7s
v. Russia - L 19-10
v. England - W 22-14
v. Spain - W 20-5
Cup QF v. Ireland - W 17-5
Cup SF v. New Zealand - Friday, Feb. 3 @ 10:04 p.m. ET