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BLACK FERNS BEFORE THE MATCH

The USA Women ended their HSBC World Rugby Women's Series 2016/2017 with a sixth place finish overall, ending with 18 wins and 18 losses for the season. In the Clermont-Ferrand Sevens, they lost to Fiji 24-19 to finish sixth in the last tournament of the year.

The Eagles lost earlier in the day to Australia 31-14 in the quarterfinals, where defensive lapses and too many penalties allowed the Aussies to pull ahead in the second half, increasing their halftime lead of 19-7. The Eagles made it 19-14 but gave up two more tries.  The Aussie scoring duet of Charlotte Caslick and Emilee Cherry proved too experienced for the American squad. Caslick scored her 50th series try, while Cherry's total ran up to 110.

The Eagles bounced back to beat Ireland in the repechage 31-14 for the second time in the French event. Scoring was spread out among the team, and, notably, Tess Feury from Penn State tallied her first sevens points via a conversion.

Fijiana, which enjoyed, along with Russia, an improved year, tallied twice in the second half to the USA's one score. The match was tied 12-12 at the break.

Finally, New Zealand defeated Australia 22-7 to win the Clermont Sevens, achieving their fifth cup win in six tournaments. The Black Ferns also won the 2016/2017 series by a wide margin, reestablishing themselves as the dominant Women's Sevens side. (Full season report tomorrow in Rugby Today.)