Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sydney 7s Preview: Women Eagles Get Back At It

After a long break the Women Eagles 7s are back at it today with the start of the Sydney 7s. The team had a very disappointing Dubai 7s by their standards but it's a new year and with more of the younger players getting time in camp with head coach Richie Walker they have aims of doing better in Sydney. That's going to be a tough task as every team on the Series is improved but the Eagles have the talent to do well.

Overall, nothing less than making the quarterfinals will do. The team will even have aims to do better than that to boot. They finished fifth in the Olympics and are more than capable of making it into the top four. However, as we just mentioned, every single team on the Series has taken he Olympics to make better sides. Some of the elite teams have gone a step above and some of the developing teams have firmly moved into the territory where the Eagles can no longer take them lightly. This weekend the Eagles need to beat the teams they should and then challenge the top sides.

Take the jump to read more.
The Team

Walker has put together a relatively veteran team from the one in Dubai. Long-time stalwart Kelly Griffin is back and joins Olympic veterans in Ryan Carlyle and Alev Kelter. Kristen Thomas also returns which is huge news for the team. Her speed is a game changer that other teams have a hard time handling. Other veterans include Kate Zackary, Nana Fa'avesi, and Nicole Heavierland. A veteran of 15s Hope Rogers is going to play as well. Rogers is not a typical 7s player but she may be just what the Eagles need to shake things up.

Squad: Cheta Emba, Kristen Thomas, Kelly Griffin, Ryan Carlyle, Nicole Heavirland, Alev Kelter, Naya Tapper, Kate Zackary, Nana Fa'avesi, Kayla Canett, Hope Rogers, Sarah Buonopane

The Opponents

Russia (8:52 p.m. et/5:52 p.m. pt): Russia finished third in Dubai showing everyone that despite missing out on the Olympics they are fully capable of making a lot of noise. However, they started out by losing to the Eagles in Dubai. The Eagles put on good defensive pressure in that match and they'll have to do the same in Sydney.

England (11:12 p.m. et/8:12 p.m. pt): England finished fourth in Dubai and will be the most difficult challenge for the Eagles in pool play. The gap between the U.S. and England has grown over the last few years. If the U.S. want to show good progress they need a big showing against England.

Spain (1:54 a.m. et/10:54 p.m. pt): Spain are a team that U.S. should be beating regularly but have struggled against in the past. Like the Eagles, Spain missed out on the quarterfinals in Dubai and will be desperate to make amends. This could be the match that determines whether the Eagles get their goal and the key is going to be defense.

The Takeaway

With the short season on the Women's Sevens Series the Eagles can't afford another slip-up like they had in Dubai. They are a better team than what they showed in their 11th place finish. Every year it seems they have one back tournament to start the year before turning it around. We think with the return of several veterans they are able to do just that and make the quarterfinals.

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