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France defeated the USA 18-12 in a women's test match Friday at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

The USA started well after the French couldn't catch the kickoff. The Eagles pressed their advantage and looked sure to score a minute in when flyhalf Sadie Anderson ghosted through a gap. She had Lynelle Kugler on her hip but was too slow to pass, and an ankle-tap brought her down.

The USA kept up the pressure, however, and earned a penalty. Anderson just pulled her kick wide, leaving the score at 0-0.

Anderson got involved again in the next good scoring chance. After Anne Peterson maddeningly opted to take contact with three players outside her, Anderson booted a kick that Ashley Kmiecik almost ran down. The play resulted in a USA lineout ten meters out, but a poor throw and an early lift saw France take the ball and clear the pressure.

That started a long period of French ascendency, as they used their size and power to shove the American forwards back. USA mistakes in their own end, notably a free kick infraction on a scrum, helped France almost score. Massive prop Helene Ezzano was set free down the wing, but wing Erica Cavanaugh, giving up about 100 pounds in the contest, tackled her into touch.

Still France pressured, only to be held up twice in-goal.

But the inevitable finally happened. From a scrum five meters out, No. 8 Safi Ndiaye was pushed over by her teammates. Flyhalf Aurelie Bailon slotted the goal, and the USA trailed 7-0, ruing their early squandered chances.

Back on the front foot the USA had a promising run from fullback Meya Bizer, but the French defense was there. They infringed, however, and Anderson lined up another kick. This, like her first, looked good, but the flags stayed down.

More penalties, though, from France, and a warning from the referee.

This time the USA went for the lineout, and a nicely-executed back line move saw Cavanugh through for 20 meters. The try line, however, was 22 meters away, and the USA forwards piled in to keep the momentum going. Eventually they had numbers out wide, but Peterson again took contact instead of passing. She did recycle quickly, and Anderson found Kmiecik on the wing for the try. Anderson then earned a huge cheer with the touch line conversion to tie it, 7-7.

The rest of the half was a thundering physical battle in the midfield, with Sarah Chobot leading the way in defending Ndiaye and the shifty Marie-Alice Yahe.

France began the second half ramming the ball down the USA's throat. The Eagles defense held, although they did give up a penalty, which Bailon teed up and pushed wide. But Bailon was good on a second attempt after a prolonged period of kick-trading. 10-7 France with 13 minutes gone in the second half.

France had the momentum then, and even when the Eagles had chances to make something happen, they started to make mistakes. A possible USA breakaway became a knock-on, and then a penalty at the scrum. Bailon was only too happy to knock over another three points. 13-7 France.

Execution errors continued to plague the Eagles. From the restart they had every chance to make France pay, but knock-ons and more lineout woes scuttled their chances.

Another error led to the killer blow for France. Anderson kicked safely to touch, but the ball had been passed back into the USA 22. So the French took a lineout at the 22-meter-line and mauled it all the way to pay dirt - the powerful Ndiaye touching down under the pile. Now down 18-7 with 14 to go, and no momentum, the USA was in trouble. And kicking the restart out on the full didn't help.

With 12 to go the USA got a penalty and opted to run it. They had numbers but a poor pass to Kmiecik ended that almost before it began.

Anderson especially started to pass behind her backs, perhaps a function of the lines becoming too flat. Whatever the reason, they could not seem to test the French out wide the way they should.

With ten minutes to go the Eagles had a series of attacks, moving the ball the way they had needed to all game. A kick ahead and a forward drive got them within a meter, but another knock-on allowed France to hold on.

Finally the USA went wide with success, quick hands from a ruck out to Cavanaugh in space, and she beat two tacklers, cut back, and scored near the posts. Anderson missed the conversion, leaving it 18-12 France with four minutes to go.

Now the USA had something going, they won the restart and attacked. French forward Elodie Potaries got a yellow card for not retreating ten meters and tackling Jossie Tseng, and it was all down to the final minutes.

The Eagles kept at it, stole a lineout but, despite the entire 2000-strong crowd yelling "wide!" They kept going into contact. Kmiecik was waving desperately for the ball as she had no one marking her, but still the Americans went up the middle. That finished the game.

USA 12
Tries: Kmiecik, Cavanaugh
Cones: Anderson

France 18
Tries: Ndiaye 2
Convs: Bailon
Pens: Bailon 2

USA lineup

1 Sarah Chobot

2 Katy Augustyn

3 Jamie Burke

4 Sarah Walsh

5 Sharon Blaney

6 Stacey Bridges

7 Lynelle Kugler

8 Shaina Turley

9 Jossy Tseng

10 Sadie Anderson

11 Ashley Kmiecik

12 Anne Peterson

13 Meghan Bonny

14 Erica Cavanaugh

15 Meya Bizer


16 Kitt Wagner

17 Hope Rogers

18 Nai Reddick

19 Kristen Zdanczewicz

20 Kate Daley

21 Carrie White

22 Hannah Stolba

23 Amanda Street

France Lineup

1 Helene Ezanno

2 Gaelle Mignot

3 Christelle Chobet

4 Sandra Rabier

5 Assa Koita

6 Coumba Dialo

7 Laetitia Grand

8 Safi Ndaye

9 Marie-Alice Yahe (c)

10 Aurelie Bailon

11 Celine Heguy

12 Lucille Godiveau

13 Sandrine Agricole

14 Laurelin Fourcade

15 Jessy Trenouliere


16 Joanna Sainlo

17 Lise Arricastre

18 Elodie Portaries

19 Lenaig Corsin

20 Sophie Pin

21 Yanna Rivoalen

22 Clemence Rousseau

23 Audrey Parra