The USA came in with some pop during their final pool play game against Argentina at the Houston 7s and put up a big 41-0 victory, the largest point spread against the South Americans all day. The run-up was necessary, however, as the Eagles were waiting on Canada’s performance against South Africa, a decision that would decide which side topped Pool B.
This was the game that everyone wanted to see out of the USA, and not so much because there was a bevy of tries – although that’s always nice – but because the Eagles were playing confidently and freely. They put those two earlier games behind them, came at Argentina with nothing but ferocity in contact, and enforced their game plan.
They did so with several players who hadn’t started yet, like Emilie Bydwell, who accounted for the first try, and Ryan Carlyle.
One of Argentina’s bright notes was Isabel Isabel Fontanarrosa, she showcased great speed and didn’t shrug off contact like some of the other flyers (the Netherland’s Kelly van Harskamp comes to mind). She roped in Jill Potter, whose linebreak put the USA into position for their first try, and also tracked down Nathalie Marchino who streaked down the sideline shortly afterward. That latter tackle came at a price, however, as she yanked Marchino’s collar and the USA was awarded a penalty in Argentina’s end. From the tap, Potter switched back inside, bounced off some would-be tacklers, and put the USA up 12-0.
The two next kickoffs added quick tries for the USA. Argentina knocked on the receipt, and the USA used the scrum to power deeper into enemy territory. Marchino was soon found powering through the middle of the defense, and as she was dragged down, Kelly Griffin sidled through for a tight offload and lane to the try zone.
The Eagles stole possession on the next restart, moved the ball to Vanesha McGee on the weakside, and wing dotted down her third try of the tournament, 22-0 into the half.
The prettiest try of the game followed. There was no big breakaway or stiffarm or dazzling sidestep, but the flash of the USA’s potential when they’re all in sync. Marchino found the tiniest of gaps in the middle of the field, and when the defense got their arms around her, Griffin was right there for the tight offload. When her ball-carrying time was over, Potter was bursting on for another offload that ended in the try zone. It was quick, neat, and totally synchronized.
The last 12 points came from Marchino, Kimber Rozier, who slotted a brilliant sideline conversion, and Lauren Doyle.
A nice way to end the day, and the Eagles were rewarded with the top seed in Pool B, as Canada beat South Africa 24-14. That gave the USA a three-point edge in the point differential. The Eagles will face Russia in the Cup Quarterfinals, while Canada will take on New Zealand.
Tries: Potter 2, Bydwell, McGee, Griffin, Marchino, Doyle
Cons: Rozier 3