The USA Women’s Eagle Sevens team claimed fourth place in the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, with an overall record of 2-3. The tournament marked the start of the first-ever IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup.
The Eagles came off a harsh 0-31 shutout at the hands of England in their last match of pool play on day one, and they likely had a sense of deja vu against Canada in the cup semifinal with a final score of 0-36.
In the first half, the USA struggled to get out of their own half and had to commit almost entirely to defense to keep Canada out of the try zone. Physical defense in the opening minutes set the tone with Kaelene Lundstrum receiving punishment on the wing and Eagle Deven Owsiany dishing out some hits of her own.
Kelly Griffin made some fantastic defensive plays. The Berkeley All-Blue put in a try-saving tackle on the wing and moments later she made another tackle, got to her feet to poach and forced a Canadian penalty.
Despite the entertaining physical battle, the USA let two tries through in the first half. One from a Canadian chip kick with no sweeper home for the Eagles and the other from broken play as the Canadian attack turned the American defense.
The second half would see the Eagles continue to struggle to escape their half of the field. Trouble for the USA at the breakdown and in contact led to turnovers that Canada capitalized on in the second half.
Canadian captain Mandy Marchak was lethal as was the winger Kayla Moleschi who managed to turn the corner on Rebekah Siebach, which is no easy feat.
The loss forced the Eagles into the 3rd/4th place game against reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens champions, Australia. Australia’s experience, pace, and skill proved to be too much for the USA who endured a 5-22 final result in Dubai.
The Eagles’ next fixtures will be the USA Women’s Sevens tournament, held in conjunction with the men’s HSBC Sevens World Series stop in Las Vegas in February.
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