Photo: Seth McConnell for USA Rugby
The Women’s Eagles were ever-impressive tonight in their historic battle with Barbarian F.C. at Infinity Park. Despite losing on a try in the final minute, the USA came back from a 17-point deficit to steal the lead and dominate the second-half of play with shining offensive and defensive moments.
“We got some really exciting young talent who worked really hard on seeing space – recognizing space – and keeping the ball alive,” said Head Coach Rob Cain. “I’m so proud of them, to come up against a team that’s been to so many World Cups and has so much experience and really that probably showed at the end. They put the ball in the right area, bit of a heartbreak for us, but it’s all about performance.”
It was the Barbarians who drew first blood through firecracker Jasmine Joyce but the United States did well to slow down the ball after and kept the Barbarians out of the try zone for some time. Though possession did move back and forth between sides, the Baa-baas continued to threaten with more trips inside the 22.
Play opened right up for the Eagles when Amy Naber-Bonte stole the ball just outside the 22 and ran straight for the try zone to dot down mid posts. The USA were at it again right after as Neariah Persinger ignited the most exciting passing relay with a run on the wing that saw Nicole Strasko, Stacey Bridges and Amy-Naber Bonte keep the play alive for Persinger to score in the corner, 12-7.
While the two tries did well to shift momentum, the Barbarians came back with a vengeance and scored four of their own. Jasmine Joyce cut through space twice over to break wide open for the first two, where Allison Miller punished the Eagles for open gaps with the third.
The United States had a couple opportunities for possession shortly after, but the Barbarians broke free again, moved inside the 22 and scored on the edge, 12-29.
Following halftime, the Eagles came back to dominate the game with shining displays on offense and defense.
A lineout outside five meters had put the Barbarians right at the tryline until Captain Kate Zackary jumped on the line to keep the ball out and force a penalty stoppage. From there, both teams worked tirelessly to get the edge on a number of errors as possession bounced back and forth for several minutes.
Momentum shifted again when Ashlee Byrge stole the ball from a Barbarians scrum ran inside the 22. The Baa-baas stole the ball back mid-play but a preceding penalty kept it on the USA side. There, Eti Haungatau used her strength to wrestle the ball over the tryline and twist her body over defenders to dot down.
A pair of lineouts for the Barbarians put them five meters from the line again but a sideways kick to the edge fell to touch and the United States were right back on.
In the set piece, a mesmerizing display of passes had almost every Eagle’s working through space until Neariah Persinger, waiting patiently on the wing, snagged the ball with perfect timing to dot down, 26-29.
As intensity rose, the USA could feel energy working beside them as Captain Kate Zackary captured a pass from Stacey Bridges and ran halfway down the pitch for the lead, 33-29.
With only one minute remaining, the crowd grew restless.
Taking the restart, Jasmine Joyce squeezed through a gap with seconds on the clock and ran into the try zone to steal the win, 33-34.
The final try was heartbreaking for a USA side who fought through the adversity for all 80 minutes to come back on the other side. Regardless, the match left an imprint on a full crowd at Infinity Park who watched as the new era of the Women’s Eagles showed strength and depth in loads.
The Women’s Eagles will return June 28 to July 14 for the Women’s Rugby Super Series in San Diego, CA, facing No. 1 New Zealand, No. 2 Ireland, No. 3 Canada and No. 4 France. Fans can sign up for the presale ticket list at usarugby.org/tickets. All games will be broadcast LIVE on FloRugby.com.
WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM STAFF
General Manager | Emilie Bydwell Head Coach | Rob CainAssistant Coach | Jamie BurkeAssistant Coach | Kate DaleyAssistant Coach | Shawn PittmanCoach/Team Manager | Jenny LuiHead Strength & Conditioning Coach | Ian JonesAssistant Strength & Conditioning Coach | Michaela StanifordHead Performance Analyst | Dave Gardner Team Doctor | Terence CroninHead Athletic Trainer | Bri ArsenaultAssistant Athletic Trainer | Amie KernAssistant Athletic Trainer | Jade CallanSupport Manager | Frank Palumbo
Read more at https://www.usarugby.org/match/46173-usa-eagles-v-barbarian-f-c/?MZVu8uw2eqOZwUqk.99