The USA’s chances of making the Semi Finals of the Women’s Rugby World Cup took a significant step forward on Wednesday following Canada’s elimination against New Zealand and, more importantly, a four-try bonus point collected against England in their Pool B match at Billings Park. An overwhelming 47-7 deficit proved too much to overcome but the Eagles will take great credit from staying in the match and achieving the bonus in stoppage time with the final score 47-26.
As the Black Ferns had earlier against Canada, England looked a class apart from the USA in the early going. Emily Scarratt pounced on a grubber through the line to grab the first score and a few moments later a penalty was awarded after Katy Augustyn was deemed to have collapsed an advancing maul.
With Augustyn serving 10 minutes for the indiscretion and the USA down a forward, it was two more tries via the driving maul in quick succession. Both went to Marlie Packer, near mirror-images of each other with the flanker simply falling over the line to touch down.
The Eagles finally got on the board when Alycia Washington powered away from a splintered scrum and Kate Zackary was on hand to wriggle her way over for the try. England would have the last say of the have, however, with Katy Mclean needing no second invitation from a gaping hole in the defensive line.
England smashed over twice more to open the second half. Simple hands created the overlap for Scarratt to put Amy Wilson-Hardy over, and then the maul did its work for the fourth time in the match. This time it was hooker Amy Cokayne who got the credit for the teamwork.
When it seemed that they could hoist the white flag, the USA instead rolled up their sleeves and after Naya Tapper did her best Energizer bunny impression, going and going, Cheta Emba followed up with her own pick-and-go over for the second try. A third came via Tapper herself, taking the ball from a lineout play and simply running through and around the English defense.
With time expired the Eagles kept the ball alive and Kayla Canett dropped a short ball back inside for Kristen Thomas. The sevens star turned on the afterburners and raced 60 meters down the pitch, weaving around the cover defense, to score a sensational try and give the USA their try bonus to the delight of the crowd.
The Eagles will now be forced to wait with nervous anticipation of the final match of the day between hosts Ireland and Six Nations rivals France. American fans will be cheering loudly for the French as only an Ireland win, coupled with a bonus point for France, can knock the USA out of the Semi Finals.
Tries – E. Scarratt (10’), Penalty try (15’), M. Packer 2 (20’, 25’), K. McLean (39’), A. Wilson-Hardy (41’), A. Cokayne (47’)
Cons – E. Scarratt 5 (11’, 21’, 26’, 42’, 48’)
Tries – K. Zackary (32’), C. Emba (50’), N. Tapper (62’), K. Thomas (80’)
Cons – A. Kelter 2 (33’, 63’), K. Rozier (80’)
Yellow cards – K. Augustyn (16’)
1 Vickii Cornborough (17 Rochelle Clark 54’), 2 Amy Cokayne (16 Vicky Fleetwood 62’), 3 Sarah Bern (18 Justine Lucas 54’), 4 Abbie Scott, 5 Tamara Taylor (19 Poppy Cleall 62’), 6 Alex Matthews, 7 Marlie Packer (20 Harriet Millar-Mills 54’), 8 Sarah Hunter (capt.), 9 Natasha Hunt (21 Leanne Riley 62’), 10 Katy Mclean (22 Rachael Burford 54’), 11 Kay Wilson, 12 Amber Reed, 13 Emily Scarratt (23 Megan Jones 62’), 14 Amy Wilson-Hardy, 15 Danielle Waterman
1 Catie Benson (18 Nicole James 60’), 2 Katy Augustyn (16 Sam Pankey 71’), 3 Tiffany Faaee (capt.) (17 Hope Rogers 49’), 4 Stacey Bridges (19 Abby Gustaitis 71’), 5 Alycia Washington, 6 Sara Parsons (20 Kristine Sommer 40’-46’, 68’), 7 Kate Zackary (16 Sam Pankey 17’-27’), 8 Jordan Gray, 9 Deven Owsiany (21 Kayla Canett 63’), 10 Kimber Rozier, 11 Kristen Thomas, 12 Alev Kelter (22 Sylvia Braaten 75’), 13 Nicole Heavirland, 14 Naya Tapper (23 Jessica Wooden 77’), 15 Cheta Emba
Referee: Joy Neville (IRFU)
Assisants: Tim Baker (HKRFU) & Marie Lematte (FFR)
TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)