Akin to 2012, the USA 7s Women have already improved on last weekend’s London 7s performance, going 3-0 on day one of the Amsterdam 7s, the final leg of the Women’s Sevens World Series. The Eagles top Pool C after wins against Brazil (24-0), Spain (17-5) and Australia (10-5).
Relying on the scores of the first two pool matches, one might presume the USA were in good shape to face Australia – a team that defeated the Eagles 28-7 last weekend – in the third round. During both games, the Eagles relied on their trademark defense in the breakdown to pressure opponents and regain loads of possession.
The hard work in the rucks paid off, and the USA spent the majority of their time against Brazil and Spain in their opponents’ end. But there were few instances in which a free-flowing, seamless offense emerged. Hand-cuffing passes prevented the team from realizing space out wide, where the Eagles have wonderful pace, or a displaced sense of urgency forced offloads instead of a tackle and recycle.
There were certainly highlights – Christy Ringgenberg’s second try against Brazil came off a tap penalty about 15 meters off the tryline. A solid, straight-forward hands-out saw the forward dive into the corner. Vix Folayan took advantage of some broken play against Spain, skirting through a disjointed defense. Just as the defender looked to close in, Folayan shifted gears and confidently glided down the sideline for a great individual try. Kelly Griffin also cleaned up a poor pass out wide, displaying some excellent footwork to get around desperate Spanish defense for a try.
But heading into the final pool play game of the day, there was anxiety that a less than perfect game wasn’t going to cut it against Australia, a finalist in last weekend’s London 7s. The conditions worsened, meaning mishandlings and scrums were bound to occur, and the pressure was on the Eagles to step up their game.
And they did. The Eagles met Australia’s equally fierce defense, and put Vanesha McGee into the try zone two-and-a-half minutes into the match. It was the only score of the half as the two sides battered the hell out of each other.
Australia answered right back in the second half, sending Nikki Etheridge in for five points after a minute of play. Again, defense and composure under pressure were going to win this game, and the USA capitalized in the fourth minute, as McGee got her second try of the game, 10-5. The Eagles held on for a well-fought, hard win and deserved the hearty smiles that plastered the team’s faces as they exited day one atop pool C.
The Eagles finished as the second-best #1 team, so they’ll face the best third-place team, Canada, in the Cup quarterfinals tomorrow. Canada had a disappointing day today, finishing 1-2 after losing to France 8-7 on a last-minute dropgoal, defeating South Africa 36-7, and then losing to England 14-0. In 2013, the North American rivalry has favored Canada (2-0-1), with the most recent match occurring last weekend in London. Canada won 10-5.
See photos from the USA 7s Women at Amsterdam HERE (photos courtesy of Ian Muir) and check out the scoring recaps HERE.