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USA Dominates Cup QF Win v Australia

  • 21 Oct 2018

Emba about to score / Photo: Alex Ho

The Eagles are into the Cup semifinals of the HSBC USA Women’s 7s after defeating Australia 26-5 inside Infinity Park, Glendale, Colo. The Aussies are the 2017-18 Women’s Sevens Series champions and entered the knockouts as the top-seeded team.

“We just wanted to sharpen up from yesterday,” USA 7s Cheta Emba said. “We played a lot of defense yesterday so we got to work on that, but we also wanted to get some ball in hand and that’s what we did. We were just trying to put both sides of our game together.”

[See Cheta Emba’s full interview here]

Akin to pool play, the Americans relied on that pressure defense to set the tone, but this morning, the Eagles were better connected and able to capitalize quickly on Australian mistakes.

The USA made good use of that early momentum, as Alev Kelter powered through the middle to commit the defense. Nicole Heavirland did well to scoop up the ball out of the tackle and quickly move it to Ilona Maher, who – you guessed it – stiff-armed her opposite and tore away for the centered try, converted by Kelter, 7-0.

Kelter getting through the middle / Photo: Alex Ho

Australia was trying to run out of its own end and made some good ground, but an ill-advised pass in traffic was disrupted and the U.S. returned to attack. And ball moved to Maher, who sat down Sharni Williams, for the second try, 12-0.

The U.S.’s constant press continued to fluster the Australians, and the second half began with a turnover in the Aussies’ end. After a couple of phases, Cheta Emba broke through the center and emphatically grounded the try, converted by Heavirland, 19-0.

“Honestly it was just, ‘Praise God that I made it to the try zone,'” Emba said of the score. “And just so much excitement because it was a pivotal point in the game and I could feel my teammates around me just really wanting us to get it done and really wanting us to keep pushing. Getting there, and touching it down, i just felt like we were doing it.”

Australia got on the board immediately afterward, working the defense on the switch out wide, and putting away Emma Sykes for the corner try, 19-5. There were still four-and-a-half minutes left, so there was plenty of time for a lead change.

Maher’s second try / Photo: Alex Ho

And it looked like Australia was heading down that road, as they found some rhythm with ball in hand and the Americans toed that line between pressure and penalties. A try was in the making as the ball moved wide inside the U.S. 10 meter, but the finishing pass hit the ground, knocked on, and the Eagles breathed a sigh of relief.

From the USA scrum, Kelter smartly kicked deep into empty field, and again uncharacteristically, Charlotte Caslick grubbed through the line with no chasers. Instead, Heavirland scooped up the ball, moved it to Maher and [you finish this line], planted her defender for her third try of the game, seventh of the tournament. Heavirland converted, 26-5.

The Eagles will ride that positivity to the Cup semifinals, where the team will face France for the berth to the final.

#USA7s #Glendale7s

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