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Handling errors stifled the Eagles in their season opener in Dubai Thursday, as they fell 12-5 to Ireland. The Eagles took the opening restart but surrendered a scrum and possession with a forward pass immediately. Ireland and the USA would then trade possession in the American half as nerves were worked out, and eventually Ireland’s Ali Miller picked up from a ruck and sped around Jane Paar for the opening try.
Knock-ons plagued the USA on the next possession, with Megan Bonny and Lauren Doyle coughing up the ball in their defensive end. The Eagles never controlled the pill in the attacking end the entire first half, so they were lucky trail by just five going into intermission.
Kelter was shown a yellow card early in the second stanza for repeated infringements in the breakdown, and Ireland would score off a point-blank penalty during the power play. Louise Galvin dotted down in the center of the field, allowing for a successful conversion and a 12-0 lead with just over four minutes to play.
The Eagles got on the board on the back of a Jessica Javelet break not long after. The speedster came on while Kelter was binned, and her first touch with space resulted in a long run. An ankle tap tackle subdued Javelet, but the Eagles were able to put Richelle Stephens away several phases later. The conversion was missed, leaving the USA down 12-5 with a couple of minutes left to play.
The Eagles earned possession back after the restart, and they worked the ball into the attacking end, but Kelly Griffin was turned over in the ruck, allowing Ireland to punt the ball to touch for the win. The result was the second upset of the pool already, as Fiji knocked off Canada 24-10 in the day’s opener. Up next for the Americans are the Fijians.