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The Eagles Women’s Sevens squad produced a near perfect Sydney tournament, earning the silver medal after losing to Canada in the Cup final. The Canadian win marked that country’s third sevens circuit victory.
From the Down Under final in the Rio Olympics last August when Australia defeated New Zealand, to this year’s Dubai Cup final when the same two teams met with the Black Ferns on top, all anticipated that the Pearls (Australia) and the New Zealand were a set of superior teams, destined to compete for gold and silver medals in 2017.
But the double surprise this past weekend in Sydney, witnessed the dual upset of the USA over New Zealand and Canada 12-7 over Australia. New Zealand defeated a dispirited Australia team 19-0 for the bronze medal as the Aussies failed to medal in their own tournament.
The USA, which demonstrated neither authority nor ability in Dubai with an 11th place finish, played tough and played smart to garner four wins in Sydney. The result represented the Eagles most disciplined event, finding multiple ways to score, and limiting opposition tries on defense.
The USA were led by the prolific try scoring of Alev Kelter and Naya Tapper. The former displayed a smart understanding of mid field play, using speed and savvy to advance the ball. Tapper’s speed and power resulted in numerous wing tries, going around and over the opposition. Both were named to the Sydney Dream team, and Tapper was named Player of the Final.
Was Sydney a one off outcome for the Eagle Women? Or have they become bona fides competitors of the Australia and New Zealand caliber? We’ll see them again in March at the USA Sevens.