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The USA is in the final of the USA 7s Women's International 7s with a comeback victory over the Netherlands in front of a huge Sam Boyd Stadium crowd Saturday.
They make the final Sunday against either France or Canada.
The Eagles received the kickoff and immediately perhaps showed a few nerves, dropping a couple of balls they should have secured easily. The second drop gave the Dutch an excellent attacking opportunity, and they made it pay.
Despite some outstanding defensive work by the USA – not least of which was Deven Owsiany managing to halt a 4-on-1 all by herself, the Netherlands kept up the pressure and punched the ball in at the corner.
Ball-handling errors continued to plague the Eagles. Vanesha McGee and then Emilie Bydwell both dropped key passes. The Eagles kept up the pressure, but the Dutch defense was outstanding. Kelly Griffin was almost through under the posts, but was just dragged down. Her offload bounced off a leg and into in-goal.
That seemed to be the end of the half, as the Netherlands booted the ball to touch from the 22 dropout. But that’s a free kick, and not the end of the half. The Americans chose to scrum down, and attacked left. McGee almost made it to paydirt, and finally Amy Daniels surged over from close range to tie the match 5-5 at halftime.
In the second half a lazy Netherlands runner disrupted a USA pass, causing a knock-on, but there was no call for offiside, just a scrum.
Then a big move for the USA. Katie Dowty kicked down field and did superbly to chase and make the tackle. The Eagle support was there and Owsiany’s counter-rucking forced a penalty for sealing. The Americans pressed with Vix Folayan, and then re-worked the ball wide, with Owsiany getting the last pass for the go-ahead try. Beth Blacks conversion was good and the USA led 12-5 with two minutes to go.
Now it was a case of using the defense to hold Dutch, and the defense did the job, forcing a knock-on and giving the Americans an excellent opportunity to put the game away. A high tackle on Owsiany made life more difficult for the team in orange, and another penalty with 31 seconds left almost guaranteed a USA victory.
Griffin kicked to the corner and a short throw to Daniels saw the prop go in at the corner. In the end, it was a game won on the USA’s defensive tenacity, and one piece of Katie Dowty magic.
The USA now plays in the final Sunday at Sam Boyd Stadium against either Canada or France.
Tries: Daniels 2, Owsiany