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The Las Vegas 7s opened with the USA Women taking on Ireland. Ireland came back from a second half deficit and won 24-21.
After the first two rounds of the Women’s World Series, the USA entered the weekend in sixth place in the standings, but with momentum from a cup finals appearance at the last stop in Sydney. Ireland were in ninth place, though they have shown the ability to beat anyone and the squad was bolstered by the addition of three players from their 6 Nations squad.
In front of a small but vocal early morning crowd. USA regathered Alev Kelter’s opening kick.
Kelter then scored the opening try, cleanly breaking the line in midfield, after several phases during which the USA looked comfortable and confident both moving the ball and in the contact area. Kelter converted her own try to make it 7-0.
Ireland claimed the restart and moved down the field in a patient and deliberate fashion, aided by two USA penalties. From a 12-meter lineout, Ireland moved the ball cleanly and Stacey Flood made a midfield break eerily similar to Kelter’s from moments before. Flood went over for Ireland’s first try, which Lucy Mulhall converted to tie the match at 7-7.
A few moments later, Katherine Zackary stretch the Ireland defense with her pace, but a knock on gave the ball back to Ireland. From the subsequent scrum, Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe was able to get through the USA defense and scored a second try for Ireland to make it 12-10 at the half, with Ireland in front.
The opening kick of the second half was not gathered cleanly by either side, setting up a scrum for the Eagles inside their own half. The ball was moved wide to Naya Tapper who had the gas to round the Irish defense and travel over 60 meters to score. Nicole Heavirland converted the try to put USA back in the lead.
Another sloppy restart led to another USA scrum, this time inside Ireland’s half. The ball went directly to Tapper again. This time, Ireland stopped her, but she was still able to suck in enough defenders to create the space for Kelter to score on the next phase. Kelter kicked the difficult conversion to make it 21-12.
Ireland struck back immediately with another try for Crowe. Mulhall kicked the difficult conversion to pull Ireland back with two points with just over a minute to play. They then won the restart and immediately punched back into the try zone. Flood scored again, this time in the corner, and Mulhall was unable to convert.
USA was also penalized as the try was being scored, giving Ireland a penalty at midfield after the conversion. USA did not get their hands on the ball again, and Ireland was able to steal the win.
Up next for USA in Pool B is Spain.
Leyla Alev Kelter
Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe