Sunday, November 27, 2016

Women Eagles Lose Again To France

Press Release

MONTPELLIER, France - The Women's Eagles were kept out of the try zone in a 24-6 defeat to France at Altrad Stadium Friday.

The loss is the third for the U.S. in the matchup this year and second of the November Tour. Supported by Atavus, the Tour kicked off Tuesday in B├ęziers with a 36-10 result in favor of the host. The Women's National Team will reconvene around the New Year with the National All-Star Competition before the final seven months of preparation for Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland.

Knowing tries would not come easy, captain Hope Rogers took advantage of a third-minute opportunity to put the Eagles on the scoreboard when France was pinged for offside at its 22. Fly half Kimber Rozier successfully put the U.S. in front at 3-0 with the penalty goal.

Though France was unable to see a grubber kick in the attacking half come off in the next possession, a knock from the Eagles allowed for comparative field position. Wing Caroline Ladagnous scored two tries in Tuesday's game and commanded attention down the wing for France to swing it back the other way. Flanker Pauline Rayssac had the space in front of her along the touch line and dove over the try line to put the home side in front, 5-3, after eight minutes.

Take the jump to read more.

Wet conditions in the south of France made for sloppy ball-handling conditions Friday, with several scrums determining possession rather than open play. It was a slog for the majority of the first frame, and unforced errors kept the Eagles out of the attacking half for large periods.

Full back Jess Wooden engaged the attack with a few minutes remaining in the half, drawing a penalty that Rozier converted into a 6-5 lead. The U.S. let its guard down in the final seconds of the half, however, losing possession on the ensuing restart and taking a penalty. France quickly tapped 10 meters from the line and full back Laura Delas restored her team's lead at 12-6 on the final play of the half.

The Eagles looked to use the break as a way to reset momentum, with the second-half restart set to be kicked to their end of the field. Not going forward after a couple of phases, Rozier looked to clear the ball only to find the onrushing France fly half, Camille Imart, charging her down to block the kick. France jumped on the loose ball and it did not take long for Audrey Forlani to extend the lead to 17-6.

Naya Tapper was sent off for a yellow card in the 52nd minute, forcing the Eagles down to 14 players to France's 15 for 10 minutes, and conceded a try in short order. The kick to touch from the infringement missed its target, but Rozier's kick away was caught at the 22 and taken over the line by center Elodie Poublan, 24-6.

Head Coach Peter Baggetta had inserted Joanne Fa'avesi into the match at scrum half in the 50th minute, and the Rio 2016 Olympian had a physical impact in her debut. She bowled over rucks as much as she distributed the ball from them, and helped the Eagles control possession during their player-disadvantage.

The U.S. held France to the early seven points and welcomed Tapper back onto the pitch in addition to the remaining substitutes piling onto the field. The fresh legs could not reach the try line through a stingy French defense and allowed a second try from Delas for a 31-6 final score.

Baggetta and the national team coaching staff were able to keep continuity from the summer and saw four players perform in their international debuts on the November Tour, including Friday's starter Abby Gustaitis. Twenty-three-year-old Rogers also captained the team on their expedition, gaining even more experience in a leadership role.

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