Eagles Fly Late In Game To Slam Spain

The USA Women put Spain to the sword Sunday at the Women’s Rugby World Cup, shutting out the Lions 43-0 in the second round of pool play in Dublin, Ireland.

The USA dominated possession and, even more so, territory, camping out in the Spanish half for 71% of the time. With some hard carries from the forwards, led by No. 8 Jordan Gray, the Eagles controlled the game from the outset, but found tries hard to come by as small errors, miscues, and penalties.

Wing Naya Tapper, who was involved in several of the USA’s scoring plays, got the USA going early. A nice move off a scrum ended with a simple series of passes that allowed the former University of North Carolina wing to fend off two and go over for the opening try.

Alev Kelter converted and it seemed the Eagles were on their way. But despite coming close to scoring multiple times, the USA team didn’t score again until late in the first half. Scrumhalf Deven Owsiany tapped quickly, hard-tackling flanker Sara Parsons was right with her, and Gray was there too to take the final pass for the try and a 12-0 halftime lead.

Slowly the USA started to pull away, and a critical ten-minute period in the second half essentially put the game away. Kelter burst through in the midfield and offloaded to Emba for the fullback’s second try. Then, after Emba’s grubber kick put Spain under pressure again, Tapper took the pass from the base of the scrum for another.

Tapper’s running then helps set up the Eagles once more. And from a lineout, Spain collapsed the maul and were assessed a penalty try. Within ten minutes the USA had gone from 12-0 to 31-0.

Two more tries came at the end of the game, with Tapper setting up Jessica Javelet, and then Hope Rogers thundering along in support of Tapper for the final try. Kelter converted that last to make it 43-0. 

It was a game where products of the USA college system and the USA 7s program shined. Emba (Harvard), Tapper (North Carolina), Gray (BYU), and Owsiamy…

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