Saturday, February 4, 2017

Women Eagles Finish Second In Sydney

The Women Eagles 7s had their best tournament in years finishing second in Sydney. It's a complete reversal from Dubai in December where they finished 11th out of 12. The Eagles did a lot of things right on the weekend but key credit should go to both Alev Kelter and Naya Tapper who were both outstanding.

Eagles 17-5 Ireland

It only took less than a minute for the U.S. to get on the board. From a set play in the middle of the park they only had to go through a few phases before Naya Tapper scored. Afterward, Ireland had a long spell of possession near the U.S. try line with a couple of minutes left but they couldn't come up with a score after a couple of knock-ons. Still, they kept with it and after the half were finally able to punch it in. At halftime it was 5-5.

The Eagles caught a break at the started of the second half when Ireland were given a yellow card for a high tackle on Ryan Carlyle. With the woman advantage Alev Kelter found space on the wing to race in for the try. Ireland had possession after the try but the Eagles defense and sloppy passing hurt the Irish from making an impact. Instead it was Tapper that would capitalize as she scored another great individual try to go up 17-5.

Take the jump to read more.

Eagles 19-12 New Zealand

If the Eagles had success in their match against Ireland they were even better against New Zealand. The All Blacks have been a near impossible team for the U.S. to beat but they dominated possession and relied on the likes of Tapper to simply starve New Zealand of the ball. It started with a pair of tries from Kelter after just simple play but porous New Zealand defense. With that the Eagles led 12-0.

New Zealand had their chances in the match but the U.S. defense was solid throughout. Really the match was won on the restarts where Tapper and Cheta Emba won restart after restart. With the possession that allowed Tapper to do her thing and run in another crucial try. New Zealand would trap a try back to make it 19-7.

The match turned right after New Zealand's try when Portia Woodman was sent to the bin for a high tackle. With only two and a half minutes left in the half the Eagles did well to wind down the clock. New Zealand did get a try but they were so winded at the end of the match they let too much time elapse before the restart and by then it was too late and the Eagles kicked it out for the win.

Eagles 17-21 Canada

In the final it took a few minutes for either team to figure things out but once again it was Tapper that would make things happen. She was deadly on the wing all match and it continued once again as she burst around the outside for the score. Unfortunately the lead was short-lived as Britt Benn and Charity Williams would score for Canada have sustained pressure. At the half Canada led 12-7.

Only seconds into the second half the Eagles narrowed the gap to 14-12 when Tapper once again found herself in space on the winger and from there he was a fend off for the score. Still, Canada were simply too strong and too experienced in the match. They kept the ball and stayed patient until they scored. There were some questions whether Ryan Carlyale had taken Bianca Farella past the dead ball line but she did touch it down for the score.  Tapper scored a third try with less than a minute to go to give the Eagles live but they couldn't find that final score. Still, it was an amazing tournament for the Eagles and one they hope gives them momentum heading into Vegas.

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