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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Olympic 7s: U.S. Fall Short Against Fiji


The quest to defend Olympic gold did not get off to a good start for the U.S. women as they fell to Fiji 12-7 in their first pool play match. Fiji were strong from the start doing well with ball and hand, but more importantly, showing great skill at the breakdown to win several timely turnovers. In the end it was a lack of possession for the U.S. and better execution for Fiji that turned the match. The U.S. can still advance to the quarterfinals but will need to beat Colombia by a big score in their next match this afternoon to give themselves a chance.

The U.S. actually started the match well with a great restart but as would happen all game the Fijian defense did very well to use the touchline as an extra defender and force the U.S. into a mistake. With the possession Fiji did well with ball in hand to push within feet of the try line. However, a great steal at the breakdown from Alev Kelter temporarily halted the danger. 

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Unfortunately it wouldn't last as a forward pass from the U.S. gave the scrum put in to Fiji. From that scrum Fiji simply worked it out wide where Luisa Tisolo spotted the gap for the score. With three minutes left in the half Fiji were up 7-0. The U.S. had several opportunities to breakout in the first half but each time the Fiji defense came up big. 

The second half didn't start well for the Eagles. Timaima Ravisa stole the ball out of Kathryn Johnson's hands and raced the rest of the way to give Fiji a 12-0 advantage with about six minutes left to play. 

The U.S. were quick to respond. On their best stretch of the match they finally were rewarded with a try when Bui Baravilala took a quick tap and then found Alev Kelter on the offload for the try. The conversion was good and the U.S. were back in it at 12-7 with about three minutes to go. 

Despite several good tackles from the U.S. it was Fiji that would control most of the match the rest of the way. They won several fantastic turnovers at the breakdown that starved the U.S. of possession and gave them opportunities to score. Fiji weren't able to capitalize but neither could the U.S. as time ran out. 

The U.S. will next play Colombia at 5:00 p.m. et/2:00 p.m. pt. They will need a big win (or a shock win over Australia) to grab one of the top two third place spots at the end of pool play.

Starters: Potter, Griffin, Johnson, Kelter, Baravilala, Doyle, Folayan

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