A disappointing end to the USA Women’s 7s campaign in London, as the Eagles dropped their Cup semifinal to Australia 28-7. The Americans were coming off a come-from-behind 15-7 win over Spain in the quarterfinals (thanks to two tries from Vanesha McGee), while Australia’s most confidence-boosting victory came during pool play: 20-19 win over England.
The game started with some messy play, beginning with a USA knock-on on the kickoff. Australia put some nice, hard running lines together, only to be foiled on the finishing pass. But it was the USA that looked to score first, as Kimber Rozier tapped through a penalty and somehow slipped through a flat line of defense. In the tackle, she offloaded to Christy Ringgenberg and a quick pass to Vix Folayan saw the USA’s best finisher stretch into open green. Unfortunately, the referee ruled Rozier’s pass forward – a questionable call – and there the drive ended.
However, it wasn’t the last time that Australia would see the back of Folayan’s jersey. With fewer than two minutes remaining, Australia was penalized for not releasing near the USA’s 22 meter. Ball worked down the line to Folayan, who stepped around one defender and then outlegged one pursuer down the sideline for the try. Rozier hit the penalty for the 7-0 lead.
Australia immediately squashed any momentum-building that might have occurred for the USA, taking the next possession down the field quickly. One missed tackle set up the opportunity for Sharni Williams to get into space, and she finished off with a centered try, 7-7 into the break.
The USA have proven that they can rally from a deficit, so hopes were high that the Eagles would kick it into second gear in the latter part of the game. But there was so second wind for the USA, as Australia dominated the final seven minutes.
Williams was at the center of the next try, switching off her teammate and easily breaking the line for try. The same exact move – a switch – caught McGee out of her channel, and Emilee Cherry dotted down Australia’s third try of the game, 21-7.
There were still more than two minutes remaining, and a concentrated, eager effort from the USA could have made things interesting. But the Eagles just looked tired and deflated.
Australia wasn’t finished, and as they battered the USA inside the Americans’ 22 meter, the Eagles were forced to put two in the tackle. After a few phases, the USA left the ruck unguarded on the fringe, and Australia easily cruised down the channel. One quick offload and Charlotte Castlit was in the try zone, 28-7 for the win.
The USA definitely did not put their best foot forward, getting caught on defensive assignments, not connecting their passes, and giving up lots of penalties. On a positive note, the Eagles head to Amsterdam next weekend and will have a superb venue to test their adjustments.
Australia advances to the Cup final against England, which was fortunate to move on after a second-half surge from Canada. Down 12-0 at the half, Canada did well to even up until the final minutes of the game, when Joanne Watmore sprinted down the sideline for the go-ahead points. Canada had a shot to tie it up, marching down the field and receiving a penalty on England’s 22 meter. It appeared that the team was setting up for a penalty play, but a miscommunication saw Mandy Marchak kick to touch instead. Everyone – England, Canada and the referee – watched in amazement as the ref blew the whistle, and that was it.