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Spain Beats USA at Buzzer

  • 01 Feb 2019
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Thomas scored her second try this tournament / Photo: Mike Lee / KLC fotos for World Rugby

Spain (1-1) outperformed the USA (1-1) in a tense 21-14 decision during Round 2 of the Sydney 7s, the third stop on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. The Eagles will now face 2-0 Australia in the final pool play round at 11:56 p.m. PT.

RELATED: 2nd-Half Rally Sends USA Over China

After handling errors saw a couple of changes of possession, Spain broke out of its own end off a scrum and series of tight-linking passes. A penalty at the breakdown extended Spain’s campaign and if it wasn’t for a wildly errant pass out wide, Spain might with this passage of play. Instead, Las Leonas regrouped, happy to take on the physical battle in the middle of the pitch. Then the general, Patricia Garcia, spied the sweeper up and kicked to space for the on-running Iera Echebarria. It bounced into the flyer’s hands, and she knocked on what would have been a try.

USA made quick work of the possession, as the scrum ball moved from Kasey McCravey to Lauren Doyle, who’s tap pass past a fast-up defense landed perfectly into Kristen Thomas’ hands. The wing flew away for a second try in Sydney, and Nicole Heavirland converted, 7-0 after four minutes.

Heavirland hung a lovely restart, and as Joanne Fa’avesi and McCravey eyed it in the air, 18-year-old Lide Urbina came flying into view and took the receipt at full pace to the try zone. Garcia’s conversion made it a 7-7 ball game with approximately a minute left in the half.

Cue Kristi Kirshe, the newcomer catching defenses with a powerful turn of pace. Fa’avesi had a go up the sideline, just getting the pass back inside to Jordan Gray-Matyas for the recycle. Lots of ground was lost as the ball moved back across the field but Kirshe took that final pass and just ran around her opposite for the mid-range, centered try. Heavirland converted for the 14-7 halftime lead.

Doyle went on a lovely stop-and-start run to get her side out of its own end, but Spain’s defense was tracking feverishly. McCravey was there for support but Spain’s numbers forced a penalty, and then away they went. After a penalty and successful lineout, Las Leonas were back in scoring position, and the final passage of play saw a perfectly timed offload from Echebarria hit the looping Marina Bravo for the try. Garcia added the sideline conversion for the 14-all scoreline.

There were still four minutes in regulation and play stayed mostly in the USA’s end. The Eagles had their opportunities to relieve pressure but a knock-on in the tackle (an unfortunate theme so far) stunted one attempt, and Garcia’s steal in the maul halted another. From a Spain scrum, Garcia snuck around the strong side of the set piece and motored 20 meters to the try line. Heavirland drew a yellow card in attempting to poach the ruck, giving Spain the player advantage for the remainder of the game, just over a minute.

On Spain’s first attempt at the line, Garcia tucked the ball instead of spinning wide and was punished with a knock-on in the attempted grounding. The USA got the scrum on its five meter, and Alena Olsen did well to compose herself with the bouncing ball. But the support was not as quick as Spain’s move over the ball, and a not-releasing penalty followed. This time, Garcia’s trademark quick tap turned into the game-winning points, plus the conversions, 21-14.

Australia’s up next at 11:56 p.m. PT.

USA 14

Tries: Thomas, Kirshe

Cons: Heavirland 2

YC: Heavirland

SPAIN 21

Tries: Garcia, Urbina, Bravo

Cons: Garcia 3

#USAWomen7s

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