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USA Wins Bronze at LA 7s

  • 03 Mar 2024
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USA 7s rugby

The USA Women 7s team entered the fifth round of the HSBC SVNS series as the No. 4 team in the standings. But the Eagles had yet to make a podium appearance this 2023-24 season, until today. Going 5-1 overall, the Americans ended their time in Los Angeles with a 3rd-place win against Canada, claiming bronze and sealing an unforgettable home stand. [All photos: Alex Ho @hoiho_photo]

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After beating South Africa 24-7 in the Cup quarterfinals, the USA took on Australia in the semifinals. Two handling errors put the ball in Australia’s hands, and both occasions developed into tries finished by Maddison Levi and Isabella Nasser: 14-0. Ilona Maher did a fabulous job igniting her teammates and the crowd, dragging Charlotte Caslick along the sideline for what felt like 30 meters. And then Kayla Canett’s kick-through set up a wild chase to the try line. Naya Tapper was on the hunt and, she’s wont to do, got over the ball in a powerful position and did not let go, forcing a not-releasing penalty on Australia’s five meter.

 

USA 7s rugby

Photo: Alex Ho @hoiho_photo

A lot of intensity was condensed into those five meters outside of Australia’s line, but Sarah Levy connected with Kristi Kirshe, who offloaded to Sammy Sullivan for the hard-won try. It was an important score heading into the break, but the USA still trailed 14-5.

The USA turned over the second-half kickoff, and Australia launched into fast, aggressive phases that ended Caslick putting away Levi for another try, 19-5. It was feeling a bit dire, until Spiff Sedrick quick-tapped through a penalty, side-stepped the defense coming across, and out-sprinted Nasser to the line. The chase did well to keep Sedrick near the sideline, but she made the conversion anyhow: 19-12.

 

USA 7s rugby

Photo: Alex Ho @hoiho_photo

Maher went up for the restart and knocked it back for Kirshe to gather. Two quick penalties followed – thanks again to Sedrick going quickly from the mark – and the USA was attacking from scrum inside the 10. The collisions were brutal, but the Eagles held possession. The final stage saw Lauren Doyle get tackled, offload to Rovetti, get back to her feet for the Rovetti offload, then set the ball for Kelter to pick-and-dive for the try. Kelter was all business, hit the conversion, and it was back to the 50.

It was 19-19. Little time on the board. Tails were up, and then way up as Maher went up for and secured the ball again. But an isolated runner gave up a not-releasing penalty and Australia turned that reversal into a breakaway try and game-winning score in referee’s time: 26-19.

 

USA 7s rugby

Photo: Alex Ho @hoiho_photo

It was a heart-breaking result, but such a heroic comeback, and the USA had one more runout to put a final say on LA 7s. Canada dropped its Cup semifinal to eventual champion New Zealand and the North American rivalry was revisited. The Eagles won the Saturday pool play game 22-19, and now there was hardware at stake.

Play was a little loose, on both sides, which meant ping-ponging exchanges in possession. The USA settled with a lineout, gifted after Canada let a pass dribble into touch, and the set piece evolved smoothly. After a hesitation, Doyle angled through the defense for ground gained, and then Tapper hot-stepped her defender and raced away untouched for the centered try, which Kelter converted.

USA 7s rugby

Photo: Alex Ho @hoiho_photo

As halftime neared, the USA looked like it was building to another score, but Sullivan got held up in the tackle and Canada reset with a scrum deep in its end. Phase after phase followed, not always pretty, but effective. Then Sophie De Goede broke a tackle and offloaded before the tackle, hitting Krissy Scurfield for the try. Breanna Nichols converted for the 7-7 halftime.

The Eagles re-established the point differential quickly. Canett was hoisted for a clean kickoff receipt, and the ball moved to Rovetti, who turned on the jets and just split the final two defenders for the fast try. Canett converted for the 14-7 lead.

 

USA 7s rugby

Photo: Alex Ho @hoiho_photo

Canada had its chances to close, but Sullivan did well to pinch a Canadian lineout on the USA 22 to quell one opportunity. Ari Ramsey tore away and angled toward the corner, rethought taking on Scurfield, and smartly recycled instead of chancing a tackle into touch or 50/50 pass back into play. Good hands from Canett kept the ball from the hitting the ground and then the SoCal native booted the ball downfield with Sedrick on the chase. Asia Hogan-Rochester was also on the hunt. Sedrick was a split-second faster and nudged the ball off the ground into the try zone, only to be tackled by Hogan-Rochester. It was a yellow-card offense and the USA was awarded the penalty try: 21-7.

With six players on the pitch, there wasn’t much hope for Canada to put in two more scores with a minute remaining. The game ended as Canada kicked to the USA’s red zone, the Eagles regathered it, and Kris Thomas kicked to touch. Game over. The USA have Bronze medals.

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