Russia, Spain Too Quick For Eagle Women In Sydney

By On January 27, 2018

Russia, Spain Too Quick For Eagle Women In Sydney

The USA women’s sevens team will play for 7th Sunday local time at the Sydney 7s and it’s perhaps more than the Eagles deserve.

Somewhat fortunate to get a 6th seed into the quarterfinals, the Eagles were shoddy in the Cup Quarterfinals on Saturday, and gormless in the 5th-place semi, losing to Russia and Spain.

Ultimately, most of the pieces of the puzzle are there for the USA team, but poor execution at key moments, and a tactical love of a 15s style of play led to two close losses.


Eight Minutes Of Russia

The Russian team dominated most of play for the first half and a few minutes into the second before the Eagles regained some momentum. But the damage had been done as Russia held on 1914-.

Russia gifted the Eagles a chance right at the beginning when Baizat Khamidova was offside on the opening kickoff. But the USA’s penalty move from there was desultory , and ended when Naya Tapper lost the ball in a tackle.

Russia desponded with a nifty loop move that served to take the USA’s most consistent defender, Alec Kelter, out of the play and put captain Alena Mikhaltsova through a gap. USA sweeper Tia Blythe had a chance to tackle Mikhaltsova, but wasted precious seconds telling cover defenders what to do. She didn’t have to - the cover defense was numerous enough and Blythe’s job was to maintain the angle on the player with the ball and chop her down. It didn’t happen, and Mikhaltsova was in for the try and a 7-0 Russia lead.

Working out of their own 22, the Russians then took advantage of a gap in the USA line. Jordan Gray was a little separated from Kelter and Tapper, and moved quickly to close the gap. But because of that, she left a small gap behind her. On the cutback, speedy Elena Zdrokova burst right by Gray’s left shoulder. Gray was turned the other direction (worrying about the gap in front of her, not behi nd her), and Zdrokova raced 80 meters.


Down 14-0 the USA finally got moving only to see Ryan Carlyle get dinged for not releasing in the tackle, and that was halftime.

Off the second half kickoff Russia scored. Once again lateral over-pursuit on defense hurt the Americans, as a single pass took two Eagles out of the play, and then a move and fend by Khamidova took two more out of contention (Kelter was brushed off with nary an argument). And that made it 19-0.

The rest of the game seemed to be centered around sending Hope Rogers to bash into people - which she’s good at - and putting Cheta Emba on her hip. However, ball was painfully slow going wide. Tapper never really saw any ball and the Eagles failed to really create much. Kelter did cap off one such movement to cut up the middle, and then Emba took the restart and galloped in to make it 19-14.

However, a miscommun ication on a loose ball at the restart gave Russia possession, and with time running out Kelter lost the ball in contact, and Russia held on.


Spain Quick-Taps To Victory

The scouting report on Spain was that scrumhalf and captain Patricia Garcia would burn you with the quick tap. Despite knowing this, and getting s reminder from their coach about this at halftime, the USA players seemed oblivious to the threat, and lost as a result.

In the opening minute, Spain got a penalty at the scrum, and Garcia tapped and was over. The USA players were painfully slow to react.

Four minutes later, a nice switch-and-offload move from the USA didn’t come together, and instead a holding-on penalty at the ruck resulted in another quick tap. Once again, no American reacted when the whistle blew, and Garcia this time set up Iera Echebarria for a race to the corner.


Do wn 14-0, the Eagles started doing weird things like running a shot-throw power move off a lineup in their own 22. Determined to send Emba or others into contact and get them to release the ball, pick it up, and move on again, the Eagles were playing more of a 15s-approach, and it burned them once more. A penalty for side entry into the ruck and Garcia tapped quickly again - this time the Americans had to know she would - and after five minutes it was 19-0.

Ryan Carlyle managed to burn a gap right at halftime, but that was scant consolation. USA head coach Richie Walker told the players they were standing around and watching the game - he wasn’t wrong.

In the second half, the Eagles managed to keep the ball a bit more, and got some luck. An overthrown lineup ball landed in Carlyle’s hands and she was off under the posts. With time just about up some power running from Rogers created space on the opposite side, and Tapper ran around and just made it to the line - smart ly placing the ball right on the tryline to score.

That tied it 19-19. But on the ensuing kickoff (the final play of the game) the Eagles were penalized again.

This time, there was no excuse. The referee had her hand out for advantage before she blew the whistle. Someone should have put herself in position to guard against Garcia tapping quickly. No one did. Garcia tapped quickly, and scored to win the game.


Not Good Enough

Overall, then, the USA is currently 1-4 in Sydney, beating a poor Japan team, and losing three very close games. Errors in defensive positioning were the most egregious, with open play problems helping Russia, and a failure to guard the quick tap obviously the problem against Spain.

Australia will meet New Zealand in the Cup Final tomorrow, and the USA plays Ireland for 7th in a game where they have to show they’ve learned some of the lessons of Day Two.

Source: Google News Spain | Netizen 24 Spain

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