The USA Women’s Eagles beat Italy 34-20 in the first ever match-up between the two teams. The Eagles started the match strong and held Italy to zero points in the first half.
“It was a great start and we were dominant in the first half,” said Eagles' Head Coach Pete Steinberg. “The Italians showed a lot of fight, but we were able to hold them off and still scored some nice tries.”
Both teams struggled to show continuity at the breakdown during the first 20 minutes, as the referee called a tight game in the tackle contest. It was a penalty that gave the US their first chance at points, but fly-half Sadie Anderson pushed her kick to the right from 37 meters.
The Eagles' scrum was strong throughout the game and starved Italy of possession for most of the match. However, it was a lineout that led to the Eagles' first try. Anderson created the opportunity after a long kick to touch. After the lineout and subsequent Italy penalty, the USA forwards drove the ball over the line with Kate Daley touching it down. Anderson missed the conversion.
More USA pressure inside Italy’s 22 led to a break by Daley, who fed Stacy Bridges for the try. Anderson converted the kick, which put the Eagles up 12-0.
The remainder of the half demonstrated the Eagles' ability to maintain pressure both offensively and defensively. The final score of the half came from captain Jamie Burke after the US took a quick tap penalty near the line.
The Eagles started the second half with continued pressure, and another penalty was converted by Anderson to put the US up 22-0.
Italy came close to their first try after a US penalty. The Italians took a quick tap, but a ferocious defense held up the ball at the five meter line. Anderson eventually helped the US out of danger with a booming kick.
Though penalties sometimes set the Eagles on the back foot, they maintained a sustained attack and Amy Daniels twisted and turned to put down another try 55 minutes into the game. Anderson converted to make the score 29-0.
With 20 minutes left to play in the match, a break by Italy, and a chip forward, was gathered and cleared by Kimber Rozier, who was able to get the ball into touch. The Italians won the resulting lineout and touched down their first try.
Italy’s second try came shortly after, with Italy’s center turning over a US ruck and running the ball 80 meters. A penalty kick several minutes later put the score at 29-17.
The Eagles responded to the pressure with an impressive team try. After countering a kick by Italy, Anderson and Ashley Kmiecik broke through the defensive line before being stopped at the 22 meter mark. The forwards attacked twice, creating space for Val Griffeth to score in the corner.
The Eagles gave up only three more points in the game after an offside penalty gave Italy the chance to kick for points.
With only a few minutes left in the game, the Eagles' relentless offense sent them over the tryline again, but the referee called it held up for the sixth time in the match.
“It was a great way to start the tour,” said Captain Jamie Burke. “We have not played for over a year so we are a little rusty. We have a lot to work on before France on Wednesday, but I am excited about this team’s potential.”
Six players received their first international caps in the game; Kimber Rozier, Sarah Wilson, Katy Augustyn, Rosie Miesner, Jenny Lui and Val Griffeth.
“We had six new players capped today and they all stepped in and did well," said Steinberg. "We lost a little of our shape and offensive rhythm as we made our replacements, but still managed to play some good rugby in the second half.”
The Eagles play France on Nov. 21st and 24th. The first match will be in Orleans and the final match of the tour will be in Paris.
USA vs Italy | CPO Acqua Acesto | Rome, Italy
Sarah Chobot (48 min Naima Reddick)
Kittery Wagner (67 min Katy Augustyn)
Jamie Burke (C) (54 min Sarah Wilson)
Sharon Blaney (61 min Rose Miesner)
Lynelle Kugler (40min Mel Denham)
Caroline White (40min Jennifer Lui)
Sadie Anderson (75 min Hannah Stolba)
San Juanita Moreno
Amy Daniels (61 min Valerie Griffeth)
Tries: Daley, Bridges, Burke, Daniels, Griffeth
Conversions: Anderson 3
Penalties: Anderson 1
Referee: Claire Hodnett
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