Ilona Maher en route to a try / Alex Ho photo
England defeated the USA 12-10 during the teams opening game of the HSBC World Rugby USA Women 7s tournament. The Eagles will now regroup for China and then New Zealand to end the day.
The USA laid the pressure on thick early in the match. Ilona Maher planted a memorable tackle along the sideline, and although the ballcarrier technically lost her boot before the hit, it was a “de-cleating” collision. Maher has earned a position as a starter, graduating from Rugby World Cup 7s breakout, to 7s resident in Chula Vista, and minutes later broke away for the Eagles’ first try, 5-0.
England answered back as Emily Scarratt stalled the sideline defense and then fed Emma Uren for the centered try, which Holly Aitchison converted 7-5.
It looked like the Eagles were going to miss out on a good scoring opportunity, as the first to two lineouts sailed over the top, but an excellent turn-around tackle from Naya Tapper prevented the breakaway. The USA took a scrum and moved it wide, and the crowd audibly approved the strategy of finding Tapper, who busted 40 meters to the corner to outrace the defense, 10-7 into the break.