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After going 2-1 on day one, the USA women went 1-2 on day two to finish fourth in Dubai. The result sees the Eagles fall one spot in the rankings to third, with Canada leapfrogging to second having collected silver in Dubai.
The day started well enough with a 12-10 win over France, but World Rugby 7s Player of the Year Michaela Blyde ended gold medal hopes with a hattrick in New Zealand’s 22-0 semifinal win over the USA.
That setup a rematch with Australia for bronze. The Eagles had gotten the better of the pairing in pool play, but not in this one. The Eagles went punch-for-punch until Australia doubled up on tries at the end to claim a 26-21 win.
In the quarterfinals, The Eagles scored first and last to win a defensive battle against France. The difference in the 12-10 match was a missed French conversion at the death. Up next for the Eagles are the Black Ferns in the semifinals.
With France’s defense keying on Ilona Maher and Naya Tapper on each touch line, Lauren Doyle sliced back against the grain to scamper under the posts for the game’s first score. Alev Kelter slotted the extras, putting the Americans up 7-0.
Doyle made a similar move on the USA’s next possession, but she was caught from behind this time. When Tapper went to play the ball away from the ruck, a French player grabbed her from an offside position, forcing Tapper to spill the ball. The referee missed the penalty and called a knock-on.
Alev Kelter nailed the conversion, putting the USA up 7-0. The half would end with neither team mounting much of an attack before intermission. Kelter’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful – 12-0.
The French wing appeared to have Maher dead to rights on the left touch line, but she managed only a mild gain before being felled by the MA Sorenson Award winner. France maintained possession, though, and scored off a short-range lineout when the ball went out off an Eagle. The kick was no good, leaving the Americans up 12-5 with under a minute to play.
The French wing would get her try right at the death, slipping through the grasp of Tapper and into pay dirt. She rounded the corner and put the ball closer to the posts than the touch line. The very makeable kick was missed, though, leaving the USA up 12-10 with one kickoff left. Thomas skied for the ball and was illegally brought down out of the air, allowing the Eagles to end the game.
That finishes the year for the women, who play again in Sydney in February.