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Team USA fell 57-5 to England Friday at Allianz Park in London. It makes them 0-2 under new head coach Rob Cain, as he is blooding new players at the beginning of the World Cup cycle. Three more new Eagles earned their first caps on the day.
The developmental sides of both England and the USA play Tuesday. The Eagles are back on the pitch Nov. 18 against Ireland in Dublin.
England’s pressure paid off in the sixth minute, when a shot-at-goal was turned down for a kick to the corner. England backed itself with the decision, opting for a try. After the lineout, a probing kick through the American line was gathered by fullback Kaitlyn Broughton, but she carried it into her own in-goal and dotted it down, giving England a five-meter scrum. The No. 8 soaked in the first American defender and fed scrumhalf Leanne Riley for the first try of the match.
The Eagles went on the offensive next, with inside center McKenzie Hawkins chipping a kick of her own though the English line, but debutant wing Sarah Levy lost the race to the ball. England also carried the ball into their own end, giving the Americans a five-meter set piece, but the ball was knocked at the back, squandering a prime scoring opportunity.
The Eagles got the ball back before the Red Roses cleared their lines, but the English defense was stout. Eventually it was a Broughton knock-on that ended the possession.
It got worse quickly for the USA, as loosehead prop Megan Rom was sent off with a red card for striking a tackler in the throat with her forearm. Sarah Levy also became a casualty to the booking, as Azniv Nalbandian was brought on in her place to fill Rom’s spot in the front row.
The Nittany Lion made her presence known immediately, forcing England into a pair of scrum penalties. The Eagles went quickly off the second, going on the front foot again. But England’s defense held firm, and eventually Rachel Johnson fumbled in contact.
England strung together a long possession over several phases and half the field, utilizing its number advantage to threaten the edge. Then England’s fullback took an inside line behind a dummy runner to spring free. She ran into a pair of Eagles at the goal line but drove over for the score.
The USA appeared to catch a break in the 33rd minute when a big tackle in the midfield jostled the ball out of England’s hands onto the floor. Broughton flyhacked it down field, and her last dribble forward was a touch too strong for the razor-thin Allianz Park try zones, and the ball dribbled out the back before Broughton could get to it.
The Red Roses went the other direction in a hurry. A point-blank attacking lineout ended in a maul for England. Alycia Washington pulled it down, resulting in a penalty try. Oddly, the referee booked the American captain, Kate Zackary, instead of Washington, leaving the Eagles with just 13 on the field.
England took full advantage, kicking open the floodgates with a 95-yard try featuring three ball carriers and two offloads. The Red Roses struck again before the half, this time scooping a poor outpass off the floor and running it 70 meters the other direction. The flurry ended with England up 33-0 at the break.
No. 8 Sarah Hunter nearly extended the lead with a 15-meter pick-and-drive, but flyhalf Gabby Cantorna got her arms around the ball and held it up, preventing the score. The Red Roses were inches from driving the ensuing scrum over the try line, but the ball was lost at the back, and England was penalized for a double movement during the play.
Minutes later, wing Kelly Smith scored her first test try, inserting from the blindside off a scrum and racing under the posts. The conversion made it 40-0 after 45 minutes.
England was held up again, resulting in the second five-meter attacking scrum for England of the half. This time Hunter didn’t bobble the ball, slamming home a try.
The Eagles held up a fourth try when Megan Foster ran down Paris Williams after she’d collected a cross kick and wrapped her up. Minutes earlier, England nearly connected on another kick into pay dirt, but Jennine Duncan had dotted it for a 22. In the 69th minute, Vickie Fleetwood crossed the line, but the Eagles held up a fifth try.
In the 75th minute, the Eagles were finally rewarded. They strung together some attacking phases, and after Johnson pierced the English line, the Roses overfolded to the wide side of the field. The Eagles attacked the short side, and Duncan handed off three defenders en route to her first-ever international try.
England got the last laugh, as Kelly Smith scored her second off turnover ball. Williams, who had been denied her debut try earlier, dotted down at the death, handing off Duncan along the way.