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Expectations in Langford

  • 15 Apr 2016
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Folayan is back. /// Photo: World Rugby / Martin Seras Lima

 

This portion of the HSBC Women’s Sevens Series is unique in that it’s the only period with two consecutive weekends of play. Teams can immediately test adjustments, build better chemistry – enjoy all of the benefits that come from regular, high-level competition. The USA has made five roster changes from Atlanta to Langford, and with them comes a shift in expectations.

 

The USA is playing two of its three Atlanta pool opponents in Spain and New Zealand, and saw Fiji in the Plate semifinals. Those teams don’t have the luxury of swapping out players between the third and fourth legs of the series, so more than half of the Eagles know what they’re getting into during day one. The replacements do alter the USA’s game slightly, and here’s where to focus:

 

RESTARTS

Atlanta captain Jill Potter stays in California this weekend and one of her greatest attributes is her effect on kickoffs. She’s a great force in the air, and that duty may shift to the rangy Carmen Farmer. The 7s prop likes the jump contest and is just as physical in the air. Farmer’s also good with ball in hand and brings World Cup experience to the pitch.

 

SPEED

Lauren Doyle and Kristen Thomas have been subbed out this round. Doyle looked good in her return but is nursing another injury sustained in Atlanta. Thomas got her breaks along the sideline and ended the Plate final with two consecutive pursuit tackles, reiterating her value. The Eagles still have finisher Jessica Javelet and add Vix Folayan, whose return is a highlight. Folayan is creativity and excitement, and the community is eager to gauge the post-injury flyer in Canada.

 

BENCH POWER

Kate Zackary and Meya Bizer remain in Chula Vista. Bizer took a knock against Australia, and up until then, had come off the bench to reinforce the defense and disrupt breakdowns. She did a good job for the little time she had. Zackary came on to tire out the defense, driving her legs through the opposition and scoring a couple of tries from close range. Joanne Fa’avesi will make up that deficit, bringing pop to the tackle and spinning out of contact. Presumably, Emily Azevedo will be introduced as a sub considering its her first HSBC Women’s Sevens Series tournament. The former Olympic bobsledder is built for impact, and that’s exactly what she needs to do in order to distinguish herself in the penultimate 7s tournament.

 

QUESTION MARKS

Azevedo certainly falls into this category, as does Christy Ringgenberg. The three-time World Cup veteran rejoined the residency program in January, and Langford 7s is Ringgenberg’s shot. She’s played flyhalf in the past and brings poise and experience to that playmaker position. The question will be whether she’s in international rugby shape after her hiatus.

 

RETURNERS

The onus is on them to keep the team unified and moving in the same direction. Alev Kelter had a knockout tournament last weekend and was named to the all-tournament team (and as our Player of the Week). Baravilala has assumed captaincy duties from Potter, a well deserved nod after her leading performance in Atlanta. Megan Bonny also had a good showing, working the sideline defense to put teammates into space, and Ryan Carlyle’s work rate put her in the right positions around the field. The young Richelle Stephens gets more confident every tournament and took advantage of a couple gaps in defense for two tries last week. Same with Nicole Heavirland, who likes to work in traffic, and Javelet, the difference-maker on the sideline.

 

USA Women’s 7s coach Richie Walker in his second series tournament has a lot to track. After Langford, the Eagles have more than a month before the final series leg in France (May 28-29) and then it’s the Olympics.

 

USA Women 7s

1. Carmen Farmer 
2. Megan Bonny 
3. Emily Azevedo 
4. Alev Kelter 
5. Ryan Carlyle 
6. Nicole Heavirland 
7. Christy Ringgenberg 
8. Bui Baravilala (c) 
9. Richelle Stephens 
10. Joanne Fa’avesi 
11. Victoria Folayan 
12. Jessica Javelet

 

USA Women @ Langford 7s

Saturday, April 16 (time in local PDT)
12:50 p.m. vs. Spain  
3:42 p.m. vs. Fiji 
6:12 p.m. vs. New Zealand

 

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