Naya Tapper scores an important try vs. New Zealand / Alex Ho photos
The USA finished day one of the HSBC USA Women’s 7s tournament 1-2, dropping its final pool play game 35-12 to New Zealand. The Eagles advance to the Cup quarterfinals as the eighth seed – but barely. Spain was vying for that same berth and needed to beat Mexico by 47 points … and beat them by 46.
The game started with some good defense from the USA, containing New Zealand, its fast game and wide attack. But Kelly Brazier saw a slight gap of the ruck and side-stepped into it for the game’s first try, which she converted. Confusion on the restart receipt produced a turnover and New Zealand took its scrum on USA’s 40 meter. The ball moved wide to Michaela Blyde, who committed defenders, and then moved back to Sarah Goss, who manipulated her markers for the try.
Maher powered to four tries today. / Photo: Alex Ho
Two more scores dotted down in the first seven minutes, as Ruby Tui capitalized on an attacking drive inside the 22, and Shakira Baker took a penalty play down the sideline to end the half. Tyla Nathan Wong handled the extras.
The Eagles returned to the pitch renewed, and once again, Ilona Maher pushed off her opposite – this time Blyde – and motored down the sideline. The tracking defense couldn’t close, which is remarkable when considering Maher’s size, and Maher scored her fourth try of the day. But Blyde had her way on the subsequent possession, using that trademark footmark to score, 35-7.
The final try of the day came from Naya Tapper, who poached the ball from inside the Eagles’ 22 meter for the breakaway score. In the end, that was the difference in terms of advancing to the Cup quarterfinals.
USA co-captain Lauren Doyle takes a look back at day one and what needs to improve for day two: