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USA Wins Sydney 7s Opener

  • 01 Feb 2019
  • 28 Views

Sydney 7s captains / Photo: Mike Lee for KLC fotos for World Rugby

The USA opened up the Sydney 7s, the third stop on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, with a 26-10 win over China. The Eagles will face Spain at 9:12 p.m. PT and hometown Australia 11:56 p.m. PT.

But the win did not evolve easily. The first half saw missed passes, ballcarriers knock-on possession while attempting to get back to their feet quickly, and four penalties. China meanwhile went to work, and two quick linebreaks saw the USA concede a high-tackle penalty while in retreat. China kept attacking, moved the ball wide to Xiaoqian Liu, who got around Ilona Maher for the try, 5-0.

Maher exited the pitch shortly afterward, and Alena Olsen came on.

But less than a minute later, the Eagles linked together a few phases and got Naya Tapper some room to flex. The wing scored her 65th try in trademark fashion, pushing off the defense for the sideline score, 7-5 with co-captain Nicole Heavirland’s conversion.

Heavirland and Cheta Emba connected on a beauty of a restart, but possession was forfeited shortly afterward. As the first half clock expired, China used a scrum and two booming kicks to touch to relocate to inside the USA’s 22 meter. Approximately 90 seconds had elapsed since the halftime hooter, so China’s Keyi Chen sent a cross-field kick behind Emba to put Liu on the chase. The flyer gathered the ball in open space and just beat Emba to the line for the roll-over try, 10-7 to China into the break.

China was all smiles for the halftime chat, but then the penalty bug started to bite the leaders. Co-captain Lauren Doyle did well to salvage messy ball out of the scrum, and her drive drew a not-releasing penalty. From approximately 10 meters out, Joanne Fa’avesi deked her opposite and fended her way to the try line for the dive-over. Heavirland nailed an excellent conversion for the 14-10 lead.

Kasey McCravey took the pitch for her first 7s cap and attacked the line on her first touch. She then did a good job of holding onto an interception-worthy pass and drawing in extra defenders as she dragged them forward. That attention opened up a lane for Kristen Thomas, and the outlet pass saw that long stride end in the try zone, 19-10.

McCravey was good on defense, too. China broke toward the corner, and as Emba shut it down, McCravey got over the ball quickly to draw a not-releasing penalty to halt that attack. Fellow debutant Kristi Kirshe then took the pitch and displayed some impressive acceleration after a halting pass. Playing center, she tore past her opposite hardly touched and powered to the try zone on her first touch of the ball. Heavirland slotted the centered conversion for the 26-10 win.

The USA will now play Spain, which dropped a 19-0 decision to Australia in round one, at 9:12 p.m. PT.

USA 26

Tries: Fa’avesi, Tapper, Thomas, Kirshe

Cons: Heavirland 3

China 10

Tries: Liu 2

#USAWomen7s

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