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The USA women's 7s team picked up a rugby ball, wrapped in a delightful maple-leaf-themed wrapping paper and put a bow on it to hand Canada a victory the Northerners didn't really earn.
In the final game of pool play in the London International 7s, the USA played more rugby, but also made more mistakes, ruining for themselves a couple of good scoring opportunities, and gifting Canada their two tries.
The game started well for the Eagles, as their defense was solid and they forced Canada to kick. Excellent defensive harassment, especially by Jillion Potter and the Canadian-born Emilie Bydwell put Canada under pressure. But a muffed scrum possession gave Canada early turnover ball, and they sent hands out to Mandie Marchak, who took the corner around some less-than-enthusiastic USA tacklers, to give Canada 5-0 lead.
That lead stood up through the first half. The Eagles did get two solid try-scoring chances. In one, Vix Folayan, whose day would only get worse, had room to run but opted to kick (as her coaches were yelling "possession!"). The ball went dead and no one was there to chase it anyway.
Later, Folayan had a two-on-one with Bydwell, but her pass was well behind her support.
In the second half, the Eagles started on the front foot as the Canadian kickoff did not go ten meters. But bad passing cursed the Eagles once more, as the Americans kept passing behind their support.
In trying to clean up all up, Deven Owsiany dove onto the ball. Folayan was there, too, and was rucked hard over her teammate. The result was that Folayan seemed to have injured her knee, and as she gamely tried to get up, the loose ball was picked up by Montreal QC's Julianne Zussman, and she ran untouched into the corner. 10-0 Canada, both on tries produced by fumbling USA fingers. Folayan had to leave the game.
The Eagles had the run of play after that, and could have scored with about two minutes to go, as they got a penalty right on the tryline. But Kimber Rozier, a bit too eager, took the quick tap from the wrong spot, as the referee was telling her repeatedly. No try ... and from the resulting tap move that the Americans had to think about, more too-flat runners, and another bad pass.
Eventually, some superb defensive pressure produced a scoring chance and Vanesha McGee rounded her opposite number to touch down. The Eagles were smart to try to take a quick conversion, but once again Rozier didn't listen to the ref, and took the kick from the wrong spot. The kick went over, but was disallowed. Still, they did it all quick enough for a restart, but a fumbled ball ended the game 10-5.
It's hard for fans to conclude who is the better team. Canada didn't have to create anything on their own to win. The USA showed they could create scoring chances, but also couldn't finish them.
Both teams move on to the quarterfinals. The USA looks like they will face Spain, who were 2-1 after beating France and Australia, and only took 3rd due to point difference. That will be a very tough game for the Americans.
Tries: Marchak, Zussman