All-America Final awaits Eagles in Sydney

SYDNEY, Australia - The Women's Eagles Sevens played one of their most disciplined matches of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series Friday (U.S. time) in a 19-12 defeat of New Zealand, reaching the Cup Final of HSBC Sydney7s.

The Cup Semifinal victory is the fourth win of the weekend for the Eagles, who have not lost since the opening match of pool play. Canada defeated host Australia in the other Semifinal, making for an all-North America Final at Allianz Stadium. The final match of the second round of the Series kicks off live on The Rugby Channel at 1:42 a.m. ET.

New Zealand was unbeaten leading up to the Semifinal, but had not faced a resurgent Eagles team that found its stride in Australia. Naya Tapper, scorer of five tries through four matches, pushed a few defenders around to open the match after Sarah Goss and Niall Williams failed to hold onto possession from captain Alev Kelter's restart. Recycling possession, the U.S. drew a penalty and kept up the support for Kelter to finish with the opening try.

The four-minute scoring play kept New Zealand off of the ball, and Kate Zackary sent Michaela Blyde into touch when the Kiwis found themselves in possession in the fifth minute. The Eagles kept hold of the ball through a successive lineout and Ryan Carlyle hit Kelter with an offload 15 meters from the line for a 12-0 lead at the break.

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Though they did not keep the ball with the second-half restart, the Eagles did not allow New Zealand to break out by knocking on the ball. Tapper then stole the ball from Blyde and got it back a phase later, fending one defender at the attacking 10 to extend the lead to 19-0.

New Zealand was made to work for a try with a deep restart kick in the 10th minute, but Katarina Whata-Simpkins got around Hope Rogers to sprint away for the 19-7 score. Kelter defended the restart and drew a high tackle from Portia Woodman. Match official Ben Crouse showed the Kiwi a yellow card in the 12th minute.

Tyla Nathan-Wong made the final minutes interesting with another near-full-field try for New Zealand, but the Eagles sent the ball into touch once time expired to pull out the 19-12 victory.

Australia could not defend home turf in Sydney's first hosting of a Women's Sevens Series event, falling to Canada in the other Semifinal, 12-7. The Cup Final between the U.S. and Canada will kick off at Allianz Stadium Saturday at 1:42 a.m. ET, with the live broadcast available on The Rugby Channel.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. New Zealand
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

New Zealand | v. USA
1. Ruby Tui
2. Alena Saili
3. Terina Te Tamaki
4. Niall Williams
5. Sarah Goss
6. Michaela Blyde
7. Tyla Nathan-Wong
8. Kelly Brazier
9. Katarina Whata-Simpkins
10. Theresa Fitzpatrick
11. Portia Woodman
12. Renee Wickliffe

Women's Eagles Sevens | 19
Tries: Kelter (2), Tapper
Conversions: Kelter, Heavirland

New Zealand | 12
Tries: Whata-Simpkins, Nathan-Wong
Conversions: Nathan-Wong
Discipine: Woodman (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 - W 19-12
Cup Final v. Canada - Saturday, Feb. 4 @ 1:42 a.m. ET