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By John Lange
Despite making five changes in the starting lineup for the second game, the USA Women’s 7s got off to a hot start against Japan, leading 21-0 at the intermission. A late charge by the Japanese notwithstanding, the Eagles were able to hold on for a 33-12 win.
The United States received the opening kickoff and used that possession to get its first points on the board when Richelle Stephens picked up her first try of the tournament in the second minute. A conversion by Bui Baravilala gave the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing restart, Japan misplayed the kick and the United States regained the ball deep in Japanese territory. Despite being driven back by the hardnosed defense of Japan, the Eagles scored just two minutes later, thanks to a great change of pace run by Kristen Thomas. A conversion by Nicole Heavirland gave the United States a 14-0 lead.
At the end of the opening stanza, Heavirland was able to recover a Japanese turnover and provide the United States with yet another chance to increase its lead. Sure enough, Kate Zackary picked up her first try of the afternoon and the tournament from short distance, and following a successful conversion by Heavirland, the Eagles walked into the break with a 21-0 lead.
The United States began the second half in the same fashion that it ended the first, with Zackary plowing down the middle of the field for her second try of the afternoon to give the Eagles a 26-0 lead in the 10th minute.
The Japanese team, however, refused to quit and picked up a pair of tries on consecutive possessions and cut the Eagles lead to 26-12. At the death of the match, the Eagles add the icing to their cake when substitute Megan Bonny scored a try and Alev Kelter picked up the conversion to make the final score 33-12 for the USA.
The United States currently stands in first place in Pool C with a 2-0 record and leads New Zealand on point differential. The Eagles wrap up pool play with a 7:26 p.m. Eastern Time kickoff vs. New Zealand.