USA RUGBY – It was a harsh result from Estadio Nacional Complutense this evening with the USA Women’s Eagles falling to Canada 17-50 in Madrid, Spain.
Head Coach Rich Ashfield’s squad did alright in the possession game, and forced penalties to earn set pieces, but struggled capitalize on those set pieces and contain the Canadian attack. A few missed opportunities against the tryline will be brought back to the drawing board as the USA reflect and look forward to the next round of the Pacific Four Series in Canada this July.
Head Coach Richard Ashfield post-match:
“General takeaways tonight are Canada are a strong team who executed well, we had good territory on the day and some opportunities, we just need to be more clinical once we get past the 22 and come away with points. We know what we need to do to get everyone on the same page going forward, tying down our set piece and breakdown work for when were beyond the 22.
Going into July, we’ve now capped 9 players, they have that international experience. They now know the kind of work that needs to be done coming into a camp, and while in camp.”
Captain Kate Zackary post-match:
“I think the biggest thing now is staying connected and motivating one another. Some of the players are heading back to the US, some are returning to full time cycle in the UK. July will come faster than we think, so it will be about staying motivated ourselves, which the player[s] do a fantastic job of.”
With the USA doing a decent job in the territory game, Zackary also noted on moving the kicking game forward:
“We’ve only had a short time together, so now it’s learning that continuity. The skills are there, we have fantastic athletes. Tess, Mack, KB and their kicking skills, it’s a part of the game the US hasn’t really shown in years past, but that’s one thing we saw these last two weekends and going to be one of our strengths moving forward. It’s building around the kick, how do we continue becoming a better territory team.”
USA v. Canada is always a showstopper, and this match was no different. The Eagles kicked off into Canada hands, but the Eagles held position to earn possession. Building slowly against Canada’s organized defense, Canada’s pressure forced an error on the Eagles line out, giving them a scrum.
The first five minutes played in Canada’s territory, but the opposing squad used a scrum to march forward. A slow build paid off for them as they made a line break, but a knock on near the try zone gave favor to the USA. The collapsing scrum gave it back to Canada though, who took a line out as close as they could to the try line, using a maul to get over and get the first score of the match.
Soon after, the USA had their first of many line outs, which was called not straight, giving the ball to Canada. The Eagles did well to scramble back to reset themselves for superb defensive work that forced a turnover, giving the USA another shot at their line out. It was a repeated play, as the line out wasn’t straight and Canada earned another scrum, but an attempted kick went to USA boot and on to touch.
A center scrum for the Eagles let Carly Waters kick long to try and gain ground. The game turned into a short kicking game as both teams used the play to get out of the center. Canada looked to be capitalizing more, but Lotte Clapp came in with another big tackle to pressure Canada to a knock on, giving the USA another scrum. An offload to Tess Feury gave some ground, and the Eagles used the momentum to build up toward the try line. A turnover created another kicking game, but the ball went to touch in Canada’s advantage. From the line out, Canada managed to cut through for their second try.
Another fight for possession pressured a knock on for Canada. Kate Zackary broke away from the USA scrum, and Lotte Clapp was waiting on the wing to make a short line break. McKenzie Hawkins used a chip through to get closer to the try line, and a Canada knock on gave the Eagles another scrum chance with a real opportunity in Canada’s 22. A Canada penalty gave the USA an option to take a penalty goal, but Gabby Cantorna’s kick goes just left.
The Eagles did well to force penalties throughout the match, and earned another shot at a penalty goal with two minutes left in the first half. Gabby Cantorna took aim and sailed it through the posts, putting some points on the board for the squad. A scramble for the ball at restart went to touch for Canada to use their rolling maul to break through and earn another five points.
The USA is strong on defense at the start of the second half to earn the ball back. Eti Hungatau made a break to gain ground, but Canada forced an error within inches of scoring, ending the Eagles’ attack. Canada kicked to touch from a scrum, and the Eagles found another opening for a set piece within the opponent’s 22. Another error in the line out gave the ball back to Canada, leaving the USA to scramble in defense.
The Eagles found ball in hand again after a Canada knock on, and the pressure was building for them to make things happen. Rachel Johnson had a big carry following a scrum piece, and the Eagles kept building up and inching closer to a score. Patient phases in the attack finally paid off, with Hope Rogers finishing the play for the Eagles’ first try. Canada took a yellow card in the process, giving the Eagles a 10 minute power play.
The Eagles couldn’t take advantage, though, as Canada remained rock solid in their cohesion to earn another try. The team found themselves in attacking position with a line out in Canada territory, but they struggled again with an unforced error, putting possession back to Canada. They earned another opportunity though, off a scrum this time, and the squad had a sense of urgency to show what they can do on attack. Patient play gave McKenzie Hawkins the ball to chip through, where Lotte Clapp ran through to pull the ball down just in time and earn points. A highlight try by the end of the day.
A deliberate knock on call gave Canada another yellow card with 10 minutes left in the game. Both sides had determination to keep the ball, but Canada found more line breaks to put the pressure on the Eagles defense. A deliberate knock on by Kate Zackary put her in the sin bin, equalizing game play for both sides. Another yellow card went to Autumn Czaplicki for another deliberate knock on call. The call gave Canada the opportunity to score another try and hit 50 points on the scoreboard.
The Eagles tried to have the final say, but a knock on gave it back to Canada, who also knocked on the ball to end the game 17-50.