A heartbreaker of a match evolved during the Women's Nations Cup this evening, and it's the USA that's left lamenting. After overtaking England 8-5 early in the second half (thanks to a Vix Folayan try), surrending the lead shortly afterward (10-8), Pam Kosanke slotted the go-ahead penalty for the 11-10 edge.
From there, the USA just needed to hold on for about 10 minutes. The Eagle defense had done a good job of slowing down the ball and stealing possession at the breakdown, frustrating England's attempts at quick ball. They were able to steal a couple of lineouts and drive the Roses' mauls back behind the gainline. On several occasions, the Eagles made a static puncher pay for their flat feet, and the defense worked at a pretty high rate.
The Roses had their chances throughout the match, as fullback Danielle Waterman carved up some open space and vice captain Maggie Alphonsi broke through the line at pace. But flankers Lynelle Kugler and Shaina Turley, and the back three were able to halt a few tries from being realized.
It wasn't all USA aggression, however, that allowed the Eagles to take the lead late into the game. Both teams were heavily penalized at the breakdown, and it's a miracle that no one was yellow carded. Kosanke was better on the day hitting penalties, while England captain Katy McLean missed all of her conversion and penalty attempts.
It's uncertain how England's final try evolved, as the Rugby Canada feed dropped as the Roses were attacking inside USA's 22 meter. USA WNT coach Pete Steinberg said that the referee added an extra six minutes of play, and the go-ahead points occured on the final play of the game. England won 15-11.
Even though the USA was so close to pulling off a fantastic upset victory, the performance was incredibly inspiring for viewers, who saw the Americans follow through on their goals, namely, an intense defense. It's one of the closest games that the Eagles have played against England, and they should be incredibly proud of their effort.
More detail to come as the players will shortly be released for interview.