Great effort by the Eagles Women's team last night, their 10-11 lead going into injury time was taken from them by a late (6 minutes of injury time) try by England. With only a short assembly time going into the game, this was a huge effort and we are looking forward to them building on this performance at the weekend against Canada. Congratulations to Peter Steinberg, their new Head Coach - solid start!
By: Wendy Young
The Women’s Nations Cup second match opened with a bang! England is the defending Nations Cup Champion, six time Six Nations Cup reigning champion and Runner Up of the 2010 RWC. With this broad resume many were touting that England would easily win Nations Cup and no one would put up a fight. But USA, a team that has shown they have the heart but not always the maturity…showed last night that they are ripening the game in the US.
The match was scoreless for the first twenty-four minutes with England having most of the possession, but the Americans were a terror on defense. This pressure defense was difficult for the England backs who are used to having time to let their movements develop. Head Coach Gary Street said: “The importance of this tournament was evident in this match with the physicality and pressure from the USA. It is a different challenge from Six Nations so it is vital for the development of some of our younger and less experienced players.”
After a tense twenty-four minutes with no score, England’s Danielle Waterman, a RWC standout, showed her spark and danced her way around several US defenders. With terrific support from wing, Fran Matthews, England finally broke the deadlock with McLean scoring in the corner on 24 minutes. McLean, however, couldn’t add the conversion.
After the try, USA fans feared the USA resolve might break due to their frenzied pace on defense, but the USA continued to show their physicality at the breakdown. Play did get a bit messy and some penalties against England for not rolling away creeped in. These penalties gave USA #12 Pam Kosanke a chance at goal. Her strike was true and USA had crawled their way to a score of 3-5.
In the second half USA showed that they had something more to prove, they didn’t want to just keep the game close, they wanted to win. At forty-eight minutes Wing Victoria “Vix” Folayan took the ball nicely from a counter kick and showed why she has been a USA 7s standout. Strong running and incredible evasive running saw her break several England defenders tackles. With this standout effort, Folayan scored in the corner, but due to the difficult angle, Kosanke missed the conversion. USA took the lead for the first time, 8-5.
After this try England took a few minutes in the tryzone to compose themselves. Compose themselves they did with England flanker Maggie “The Machine” Alphonsi breaking through the line, scoring England’s second try. The conversion by McLean was missed and England only led 10-8.
England’s lead was short-lived though. Careless errors by England resulted in more penalties and USA's Kosanke converted the opportunity in the 56th minute. USA led for the second time in the match, 11-10.
At this point, England was showing a bit of panic and started throwing everything they had at the USA. Several subs for England brought in fresh legs while USA only brought in one sub. At this point all the USA had to do was wear down the clock. However, a fired-up Amy Garnett for England took a quick tap penalty, passed the ball to Claire Allan who battled her way against the Eagles’ defensive line. Seconds later a superbly placed kick from England flyhalf Katy McLean handed England a lineout on USA’s 22m, but USA defense was strong on the line.
Moments later after a failed clearing kick by USA, the pressure became too overwhelming, as USA player Sarah Chobot was yellow carded for persistent foul play at 73 minutes. England would play the rest of the match up a woman.
In the remaining minutes England came close to scoring another two times, but again couldn’t break the try line, and McLean also missed a late penalty attempt. England was ever persistent and after a period of sustained pressure that saw several scrums on America’s line, lock, Rowena Burnfield, finally broke through, powering her way over the try-line to score on the last play of the game. With McLean missing the conversion England took the 15-11 victory
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