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Richie Walker’s Eagles completed a massive turnaround in the span of 12 hours, beating New Zealand 14-12 in the Dubai quarterfinals with a game-winning try at the death. In both teams’ previous game, the Black Ferns blasted the USA 45-14 in the final round of pool play.
The Americans scored first and last, sandwiching New Zealand’s two tries. In the end, the difference was two Alev Kelter conversions to one for the Kiwis. The reward is a semifinal match-up against Russia at 4:28 a.m. ET.
Naya Tapper drew first blood, charging in from short distance off an attacking five-meter ruck. She was the first receiver, and took the pass from Kelter against the grain and across the line. Kelter added to her stat sheet after the assist with a conversion.
The Black Ferns responded with a set piece play near midfield following an American penalty. They looked like they were going to shift it to the left wing, but G Broughton saw a gap in the middle of the defense and took it, wrong-footing Nicole Heavirland in the process, en route to a try. The conversion was good, knotting the game at 7-7 going into halftime.
New Zealand scored first after intermission, this time through Portia Woodman in the ninth minute. The conversion was no good – 12-7.
The defensive stalemate would last until the final seconds, when New Zealand was called for a penalty in the American end. Jordan Gray toed through the ball quickly and charged ahead, offloading to Abby Gustaitis. Tapper came in for the clear out, and Kelsi Stockert saw space on the side of the ruck, sniping through the Kiwi defense and sprinting 60 meters for the tying score. Kelter nailed the kick with no time left, polishing off the upset.