Seventh on the cards for Eagles with loss to England

KITAKYUSHU, Japan - The Women's Eagles Sevens fell short of overcoming a 14-point deficit against England, 26-24, in Sunday's HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens Fifth-Place Semifinal.

The loss is the third consecutive defeat at Mikuni World Stadium for Head Coach Richie Walker's side, which ended pool play against Canada and lost the Cup Quarterfinal to Fiji. Naya Tapper pushed her 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series points total to 100 with her 20th try of the season, while Kelsi Stockert recorded the first two five-pointers of her career. The Eagles will conclude the fourth round of the season in a Seventh-Place Final against France at 2:58 a.m. ET.


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The Eagles had beaten England earlier in the weekend despite conceding the first try in a 27-5 pool play effort. In the Semifinal, the U.S. capitalized on a restart turnover to dot down first. A penalty from the match-opening knock led to an attack ahead of the 22, where Jordan Gray kept the ball out of a defender's reach for an offload to Stockert. She ran onto the ball with pace and used a strong fend on Emily Scott to give the Eagles a 5-0 lead.

Stockert carried the momentum into the next possession when the Eagles kept England without the ball, running through one defender to gain the 10. England captain Abbie Brown burst through the defense when Gray turned it over, however, for a 7-5 England lead.

The Eagles put the ball in Tapper's hands after England lost a third consecutive restart in the fourth minute. With three defenders marking her at her own 22, she made a run for the space along the touch line and beat everyone for the try. Nicole Heavirland converted the score for a 12-7 advantage. England leveled the match in the seventh minute when Millie Wood, chasing a kick behind the Eagles' 22, nudged the ball across Gray for Alice Richardson to recover, 12-12.

The Semifinal was one of the longest games of the weekend with extra time played in both halves. Heather Fisher had the most energy left at the end of the first to give England a 19-12 lead, finishing off an extended period of play with a run down the wing.

Captain Alev Kelter gave up possession from the second-half restart with a grubber attempt, which was collected by England behind its 10 for Wood to beat the defense. The Eagles' comeback bid from 26-12 down got off to a slow start with Tapper taken into touch and a lineout steal nullified by a forward pass, but Stockert scored her second out wide following a run by Kelter. The angled conversion did not succeed for a two-possession game, 26-17.

Kelter's own try in the last minute, 26-24, did not lead to an eventual victory, as the ball was lost forward by Bulou Mataitoga after the full-time whistle.

Eight Series standings points are on offer to the winner of the Seventh-Place Final between the Eagles and France scheduled for 2:58 a.m. ET Sunday. The match can be viewed live in the United States on The Rugby Channel.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. England
1. Joanne Fa'avesi
2. Kristen Thomas
3. Kelly Griffin
4. Nicole Heavirland
5. Lilly Durbin
6. Alev Kelter (C)
7. Naya Tapper
8. Jordan Gray
9. Kelsi Stockert
10. Megan Sanders
11. Bulou Mataitoga
12. Nicole Snyder

England | v. USA
1. Emily Scott
2. Abbie Brown
3. Alice Richardson
4. Millie Wood
5. Katy Mclean
6. Deborah Fleming
7. Heather Fisher
8. Meg Jones
9. Sarah McKenna
10. Joanne Watmore
11. Holly Aitchison
12. Amy Wilson Hardy

Women's Eagles Sevens | 24
Tries: Stockert (2), Tapper, Kelter
Conversions: Heavirland, Kelter

England | 26
Tries: Brown, Richardson, Fisher, Wood
Conversions: Richardson (3)

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens
v. Spain - W 19-10
v. England - W 27-5
v. Canada - L 29-12
Cup QF v. Fiji - L 26-19
Fifth-Place Semifinal v. England - L 26-24
Seventh-Place Final v. France - Sunday, April 23 @ 2:58 a.m. ET