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Needing a victory or to keep it close in its final match of day one of the HSBC USA Women’s 7s in Glendale, Colo., the USA lost to New Zealand 35-12. After the match, the magic number was 47 for the USA. For the Eagles to advance to the cup quarterfinals, Spain couldn’t beat Mexico by 47 points. At halftime, Spain led 24-0 and won 46-0. That means the USA advances to the cup quarterfinals by one point. The USA plays Australia at 11:36 am on Sunday.
The Black Ferns dominated possession as the USA didn’t get its first significant ball until the second half when the score was already 28-0. Ilona Maher scored to open up the second half and after New Zealand responded, Naya Tapper added the final try soon after.
Describing day one play, head coach Chris Brown said, “Frustrating. Real frustrating. The way we came out with the intent in the first game today and showed what we have been working on in the last eight weeks. Now seeing this, the confidence dropped off.”
“We’re not just sticking to the plan, we’re talking about stuff but they are not executing,” Brown added. “It’s not seeing the effort, its work off the ball in being in good possessions. That’s what we are going to have to take a look at and say when we do that right, we are in a good place. When we don’t want to stick to the plan, then we get hurt by these three teams.”
The first half was all about possession. New Zealand had the ball for almost the entire time and the two times the USA did get the ball, it was penalized immediately. The Black Ferns excelled on offense using everything from dummies to misdirection to score. Kelly Brazier, Sarah Goss, Ruby Tui, and Shakira Baker found the endzone for the 28-0 halftime lead for New Zealand.
On USA’s first possession of the second half, the ball was spun wide and Maher took it to the house with a 50-meter sprint to the finish line. The Black Ferns came right back when Michaela Blyde’s stop and go beat her defender for the 40-meter score.
Off the restart, Cheta Emba rumbled down the sideline but New Zealand regained possession pushing it to midfield. The Black Ferns took the ball into contact and Naya Tapper grabbed the loose ball and rushed 60 meters for the try. The game ended shortly after when New Zealand poached the ball and kicked it into touch.