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The Women’s Eagles opened their Olympic qualification account with a 2-1 day one in Dubai Thursday. They sloppily edged Russia, 17-12, in the first game, then played New Zealand tough in a 24-19 loss, and blew China out, 61-0, to finish the day. The result is a Cup Quarterfinal berth and a meeting with rival Canada Friday.
In the opening game, the United States built a 10-0 lead with tries from Vix Folayan and Amelia Villines. Both Alev Kelter conversion attempts were missed. Just before halftime, Russia got one try back, making it 10-5 going into the break.
Folayan would score a second try midway through the second half, this one converted by Villines, to earn the Eagles a two-score lead, 17-5. Russia, however, scored with enough time to make it a game. The Eagles had to scrap until the final whistle, with an athletic play from Javelet helping secure the win.
Understandably, given it was their first time back in real competition in seven months, the women didn’t look sharp against Russia. Contact was taken when overloads were on offer, and had the USA gotten the ball wide a little more consistently, an easier win could have been on the table. The Eagles would get better throughout the day, though.
Against the Black Ferns, they took a 7-0 lead when Javalet scored after a Kiwi turnover and Villines converted in the opening minute. New Zealand stormed back with successive tries to carry a 10-5 lead into halftime.
Out of the break, Folayan took an offload from Javelet for her first try of the game, putting the USA back on top, 14-10, following another Villines conversion. The Black Ferns responded with back-to-back scores again, taking a 24-14 lead, and a late Folayan score wouldn’t be enough to see the Eagles to victory.
Despite the loss, the Americans had stepped their game up from the first match, and they’d break a record in their last one, running in nine tries en route to a 61-0 defeat of China, the largest margin of victory in Women’s World Series history. China held the previous record with a 57-0 win. Folayan recorded a hat trick in the contest, giving her seven tries on the day.
The Eagles’ match with Canada is 1:22 a.m. Friday morning. All of the women’s action is being streamed live by World Rugby
USA 61-0 China
Tries: Folayan (3), Kelter (2), Javelet, Griffin, Fa’avesi, Fowler
Cons: Villines (3), Kelter (3), Lopez (2)
USA 19-24 New Zealand
Tries: Folayan (2), Javelet
Cons: Villines (2)
USA 17-12 Russia
Tries: Folayan (2), Kelter