USA Eagles
21 14
19 12
Women's Sevens  @ Westhills Stadium
May 27, 201710:30 am PDT
Canada Sevens
Referee:  Amy Perrett

Thomas bags three in U.S. victory at Canada Sevens

 Michael Lee / KLC fotos

LANGFORD, British Columbia - The USA Women's Eagles Sevens started HSBC Canada Sevens positively Saturday, beating England, 21-19, in Pool A action.

Captain Alev Kelter and Nicole Heavirland combined to convert all three of Kristen Thomas' tries in the victory at Westhills Stadum, which sees Richie Walker's squad momentarily top its pool with New Zealand and the Netherlands. The Eagles' second matchup of the fifth round of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series against New Zealand will kick off at 4:36 p.m. ET, and can be watched live on The Rugby Channel.

A new-look starting seven took to the field of play for Walker, with Sylvia Braaten making her debut, Cheta Emba and Kate Zackary both returning from injury, and Jessica Javelet earning her first appearance since the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Emba's height and strength put the Eagles on the front foot from the opening restart, and an elusive run by Javelet across the gain line inside England's half created space for Thomas' first try inside a minute.

Emba capitalized on a turnover to take the U.S. back to the England 22 in the second minute and kept England from escaping its end by picking up a loose ball phases later, but a knock by Braaten in the fifth minute was immediately taken 80 meters to the posts by Holly Aitchison for the 7-7 score.

Heather Fisher was all over the sixth-minute restart and drew a penalty, from which she also created havoc in the U.S. defense with a dummy run for Alice Richardson to give England a 12-7 advantage. After initially turning over the ball on the next possession, Javelet stole it back for Heavirland to free Thomas at the defensive 10 for the go-ahead, 14-12, try to end the half.

Emba was a handful with ball in hand and put forth a challenge to five England defenders to open the second frame, handing off four attempted tacklers to gain the attacking 22. After a penalty call, she won Kelter's lineout throw 10 meters from the try line before Thomas dotted down to complete her hat trick, 21-12.

The Eagles struggled in several set pieces as the game wound down, and conceded a try from a lost lineout in the 12th minute for a two-point, 21-19, lead. With just seconds remaining, the U.S. opted for another kick to touch when match official Amy Perrett blew the whistle against England. The lineout was turned over, but effective defense by the Eagles forced a knock to end the game.

Early match time for several players unaccustomed to the circuit in recent months will come in handy heading into the second game against New Zealand, which had its own scare to open pool play against the Netherlands. The game will kick off from Westhills Stadium at 4:36 p.m. ET. The entire tournament can be watched live on The Rugby Channel for free.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. England

1. Cheta Emba

2. Kristen Thomas

3. Kate Zackary

4. Nicole Heavirland

5. Sylvia Braaten

6. Alev Kelter (C)

7. Naya Tapper

8. Kelly Griffin

9. Kelsi Stockert

10. Joanne Fa'avesi

11. Mata Hingano

12. Jessica Javelet

England | v. USA

1. Natasha Brennan

2. Katie Mason

3. Alice Richardson

4. Millie Wood

5. Lauren Cattell

6. Deborah Fleming

7. Heather Fisher

8. Kelly Smith

9. Charlotte Clapp

10. Joanne Watmore

11. Holly Aitchison

12. Chantelle Miell

Women's Eagles Sevens | 21

Tries: Thomas (3)

Conversions: Kelter (2), Heavirland

England | 19

Tries: Aitchison, Richardson, Fleming

Conversions: Richardson, Aitchison

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Canada Sevens

v. England - W 21-19

v. New Zealand - Saturday, May 27 @ 4:36 p.m. ET

v. Netherlands - Saturday, May 27 @ 6:58 p.m. ET