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Ian Muir Photo

The United States opened the Atlanta 7s with a convincing win over South Africa 36-5. With a first half hat trick from Victoria Folayan, the Eagles cruised to victory in their first game of pool play.

The United States took the opening kickoff and looked to have knocked the ball on in the opening phases, but the referee allowed play to continue. The Eagles swung the ball back and forth continuing to make short chunks of yardage. Finally, Victoria Folayan took a crash ball, fended off a South Africa defender, and took it the distance for a 7-0 lead.

South Africa made some gains after a deep kickoff but a forward pass slowed its momentum. Off the ensuing scrum, Folayan took a switch ball on the left sideline, hit a gap and scored her second of the afternoon. Another knock on stymied the South African attack and Folayan earned the hat trick with a minute to go in the first half. The speedster seemed to be wrapped up with three South African defenders present, looked to be going to the ground. However, Folayan spun out of the tackle and darted through the Blitzbokke defense for a 21-0 lead.

The Eagles further put a stranglehold on the game with a score right before halftime. Folayan earned a penalty at the ruck just inside the South Africa 22. A quick tap and one pass to Jessica Javalet gave the Eagles a 26-0 halftime lead.

South Africa regained its composure at the start of the second half, earning a penalty and working its way down the field. After numerous phases, South Africa scored a try in the corner off a pick and go. The visitors missed the conversion and the Eagles led 26-5.

The Blitzbokke controlled much of the possession in the early stages of the second half, but slow play at the ruck and a knock on allowed the Eagles to prevent the South Africans from cutting into the lead. After the knock on the Eagles passed the ball left and winger Kristen Thomas outflanked the South African defense for a 90- meter try.

The Eagles sealed the victory with a very impressive final try. The Eagles won possession and after several phases the ball found Katie Johnson tip-toeing down the right sideline. While being tackled into touch, Johnson used a one handed offload to find Katherine Zachary and the debutant grounded her first career try for the Eagles.

With the final try coming with very little time remaining, the Eagles kicked to touch after the ensuing kickoff to tally a 36-5 win in the opening round of pool play. The Eagles will take on Russia in later today in their next match of pool play.