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Ian Muir photo

The United States finished third in its pool and with a 34-3 loss at the hands of New Zealand Saturday. England and Canada drawing earlier in the day made it impossible for either the Eagles or Black Ferns to get through to the semifinals, regardless of their result, so the game was simply for seeding in the competition for fifth place.

It was within the Eagles’ reach for the first 60 minutes, as the Black Ferns carried just a 12-0 lead going into intermission. If it weren’t for a controversial decision to not award a try to lock Sarah Walsh, the Eagles would have been down just one score. The Eagles shot themselves in the foot multiple times, as well, letting scoring opportunities go to waste.

The Black Ferns will also miss out on the knockout rounds, as England and Canada drawing earlier in the day made it impossible for either the USA or New Zealand to get through, regardless of the game’s outcome.

New Zealand opened the pool finale scoring with a try in the ninth minute. A long skip pass from flyhalf Kelly Brazier found outside center Huriana Manuel in space for the score. The conversion was successful.

New Zealand’s second try of the opening half came about five minutes later when the Black Ferns turned the Eagles over in a maul following an American lineout that was played wide quickly. On the newfound possession, Kiwi fullback Selica Winiata absorbed a hard hit from American counterpart Meya Bizer as she dished to wing Claire Richardson for the score. This conversion was missed, leaving the score at 12-0.

The Eagles then took a big blow when captain Kate Daley went down with an ankle injury in the 19th minute. Shaina Turley came in at blindside flanker, bumping Jillion Potter to the back of the scrum.

With about 10 minutes to play, the USA had its first truly threatening possession inside New Zealand’s 22. Numerous dives for the line were repelled, but one wasn’t. On a point-blank pick-and-jam, Walsh clearly grounded the ball on the line for what should have been a try. The referee missed the grounding, and television match officials were not in play, so the try was not awarded, leaving the Eagles empty handed.

The Eagles had a couple of more opportunities in the first half, but let them slip away. A flubbed lineout in the attacking end and the decision to forego a makeable shot at goal in favor of quick-tapping, only to knock-on immediately thereafter, saw the USA go into halftime down 12-0. The Eagles’ woes continued into the second half, as Bizer was cleanly in for what could have been the USA’s first try not long after play commenced, but botched the grounding.

Rozier finally got the USA on the board with a penalty in the 51st minute after New Zealand, now a man down, was pinged for offside. The kick drew the USA closer at 12-3, though the lead could conceivably have belonged to the Americans if prior opportunities had been capitalized on.

Four Black Fern tries in the game’s final 20 minutes saw the score line flattered in what the USA will have to look back on as a winnable game. The Eagles had plenty of ball, but failed to cash in a few tries they should have. New Zealand was content to play the territory game until space opened up, and the USA struggled in lineouts and could have been better in the breakdown.

The Eagles will now play Australia Wednesday. 

Match Details

08.09.14 Marcoussis, France
Final Score
New Zealand