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USA’s first match at the HSBC USA Women’s 7s in Glendale, Colo. began with excitement but ended in disappointment as the women fell to England on the last play, 12-10. USA’s Ilona Maher and Naya Tapper scored in the first and led 10-7 at the half. Defense dominated the second half and England’s aggressive play at the end of the game proved to be the decider when Ellie Kildunne scored the game-winner in the corner.
“There is some simple stuff we need to clean up, some simple errors we made, and some simple communication,” Maher said. "Fixing that, identifying it, seeing what we can do to fix it, and cleaning it up for the next game." For the next game against China, Maher said that her team will work on “improving the little things. Talking, connection on defense, making our defense and being smart.”
After the USA defense pushed England back to begin the match, the Eagles' first offensive opportunity started off a penalty for not releasing. After a lineout to Maher, Nicole Heavirland passed to Alev Kelter back to Maher who stiff-armed her way to the score. The conversion was wide and the USA led 5-0.
The restart went into touch giving England the ball at midfield. The USA defense was solid to begin but once England finally crossed midfield, an overload on the wing saw Emily Scarratt offload to Emma Uren for the 50-meter try. Holly Aitchison made the conversion for the 7-5 advantage.
England recovered the kickoff but gave the back to the USA on a penalty. Exchanging infractions, England’s Kildunne broke free on the wing but Tapper tracked her down. The USA got the ball back on a penalty and swung it wide to Tapper for the try. The Eagles were unable to convert the kick and led 10-7 at the half.
In the second half, defense ruled the period, but England amped up their aggressive play. The key play of the match happened late when England kicked ahead and Kildunne got there first but bobbled the ball inside the USA 22. Scrum pressure by England caused the USA to down the ball in the tryzone giving their opponent a five-meter scrum. England went wide and Kildunne fought off two defenders for the game-winner in the corner.
Rugby Today also talked to Steph Rovetti, who made her USA 7s debut today. “[It was] awesome. Having the USA on your chest is a really good feeling and to be able to represent your country. It’s an awesome atmosphere out here.”
On the game, Rovetti said, “I think we did well and did a lot of things we have been really focusing on the last few months. It’s a brand new framework, so implementing that and doing that to carry on to the next game.”
The USA’s next match is at 1:58 pm MST versus China, who lost to New Zealand 45-0.