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The USA women will have to wait until next month to qualify for the Olympics, as a 15-14 loss to England in the Amsterdam Cup Consolation sees them finish fifth in the World Series standings. The USA and England actually wound up tied in Series points at season’s end, but a superior point differential gives England the nod.
The four teams winning qualification via the Series are New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Great Britain. They join host Brazil as those already in the big dance. The USA will have to win its way in via the NACRA 7s Championship June 13-14 in Cary, N.C.
In the Olympic decider, Kelly Griffin made the first serious threat for either team, bursting around the perimeter of the English defense and up the touch line. She was caught, though. The Eagles and English traded penalties, and Bonny quick-tapped from the latter whistle, running in for a score. Bui Barivalala converted, and the USA led 7-0.
The rest of the half seemed destined to elapse with both teams swapping knock-ons and penalties, but England capitalized on the final penalty of the half at the death. Taking over possession just in its own end, England went through several phases before Marlie Packer threw a violent stiff-arm at Megan Bonny and crashed over for a try. The conversion was missed, leaving the USA up 7-5 at intermission.
Back-to-back penalties, one on Kelter for tackling her opposite without the ball and one on another Eagle for side entry at a ruck, gave England territory and go-forward, leading to and Emily Scarratt try. England led 10-7 with three minutes to play.
Joanne Watmore extended that led to two scores seconds later. Lauren Doyle went straight into a tackle, Packer cleanly poached the ball, and Watmore beat Thomas around the corner for the crucial try.
Kelter gave the Eagles one last gasp, sprinting through the English defense after a penalty for a centered score. However, the restart went deep straight to England, which booted the ball directly to touch for the win and Olympic berth.