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Ian Muir photo

The Eagles improved to 1-1 in Sydney with a 38-0 drubbing of Japan in their second pool match. Naya Tapper and Hope Rogers scored two each, setting the USA up with an all-important pool finale against New Zealand.

The Americans maintained patience on defense, as Japan went through the phases for two minutes before conceding possession. As soon as the Eagles touch it, they went cleanly through the hands to Alev Kelter at center, who broke the line and put Naya Tapper away for a try. Conversion good, the Eagles led 7-0.

The Americans nearly scored again when Jordan Gray won a penalty at the breakdown near the attacking 22. She quick-tapped and burst to within inches of the try line before being hauled in. The Eagles went two phases, but lost a ton of ground and eventually the ball. Japan didn’t hold onto it long before Nicole Heavirland offloaded to Tapper who offloaded to Kelter for a try. Her kick hit the upright – 12-0.

There were nearly 90 seconds on the clock when the kickoff was made, but the Eagles wouldn’t touch the ball until the full-time whistle when Gray won another penalty in the breakdown. With advantage, Tapper and Kelter switched, and Kelter ran in for the USA’s third score. The conversion was slotted, making it 19-0.

The Eagles were fortunate in the early goings of the second half. Kelter leapt and affected the flight of a Japanese pass, appearing to knock it on, but Taapper picked it up and ran it in for her fifth try of the tournament. In short order, Hope Rogers barreled over for the USA’s fifth try of the game, making it 33-0 with the kicks.

Rogers made it a brace near the end, tapping and burrowing into the try zone after a point-blank penalty. The infraction occurred in the tackle after Cheta Emba delivered a massive handoff on the touch line.