The USA Women 7s have not found their groove just yet, and a fortuitous second half enabled their 19-12 win over host China this evening. The Eagles are 2-0 thus far at the China 7s, the third round of the IRB Women Sevens World Series, and will face England in their final pool match. The Eagles are, however, guaranteed a spot in the Cup quarterfinals.
The onset looked promising as a deep Sadie Anderson kick ended in a China knock-on into touch, but the subsequent phase saw Lauren Doyle knock-on on the wing and return possession to the hosts. China eventually found themselves with a lineout deep in their end, and the ball wobbled out to a flat line, until Yao Jiyan sliced back inside to catch the USA defense off guard. She legged out the 50-plus meter try, while Fen Wanjuan converted, 7-0, three-and-a-half minutes in.
Shortly afterward, an ill-executed pop kick from Kelly Griffin in the USA's end produced another China lineout, and this time, simple hands out saw Nathalie Marchino unable to close the gap, and final pass back inside to Liu Yan stalled Doyle long enough for the space to score, 12-0 China.
But the USA rallied in style, and from the next kickoff, Katie Dowty made the right decision to take the receipt and pummel upfield. Griffin go the quick offload and motored downfield, and when she was pulled down in China's end, Vix Folayan was there for the pickup. She pushed off two defenders and centered the try, which Anderson converted, 12-7 into the half.
Folayan came to the rescue early in the second half, as the USA took the opening kickoff from midway after a China error. As the ball worked wide, stalling passes prevented receivers from building any momentum, but Folayan pumped those legs and took that final pass past outstretched defenders for the score and Anderson conversion, 14-12.
China's scoring was sequestered to the first half, but they would continue to threaten for the rest of the match. The most dangerous occasion occurred after a lineout error handed China a scrum on their 22 meter. A defensive lapse allowed a ballcarrier to step her way to the 50 meter, and while the USA was in quick pursuit, their scramble defense was hampered by players falling off tackles.
The cushion try came from Doyle, who made good use of a penalty by stepping around her opponents on the sideline. If the game had ended there, it would have been a nice boost into their final game against England. Instead, it ended with a knock-on, resulting from a penalty play after the regulation clock had expired.
A win is a win, but the USA will have to straighten out their game before taking on top contender England in round three.
Tries: Folayan 2, Doyle
Cons: Anderson 3