LONG EATON, England -- The USA Rugby AIG Women’s Junior All-Americans recorded an historic first-ever win over England to book their place in the Nations Cup Final. The 27-17 result means that the girls will go up against rivals Canada in the showpiece event on Sunday.
Going into the game with confidence after their comfortable victory against South Africa on Sunday, the WJAAs started where they left off in that game by applying early pressure on England upfront. From a lineout near England’s line the forwards drove and recycled the ball quickly for Jordan Gray to crash over. Anne Peterson added the conversion for a 7-0 lead after only three minutes. The blistering start continued and after some great phase play, Chidinma “Chi Chi” Chukwueke ran a great line off Petersen and used all of her strength to force her way over the line. Peterson again added the extras for a 14-0 lead after 11 minutes.
The WJAAs were in the ascendancy and even when England did have the ball they came up against a blue wall that was determined not to be broken. This defensive effort was soon to be rewarded. After some great work by the forwards at the lineout, the WJAAs forced a turnover in midfield and released the ball wide to Natalie Kosco who ran the ball in from 10 yards. The WJAAs were heading for halftime in a strong position, but the referee was becoming inpatient with both teams at the breakdown and Kelsey Harris was sent to the sin bin just before the break for not rolling away fast enough at the ruck. The WJAAs headed into halftime 19-0 up but a player down.
The numerical advantage told soon after the break as England made the use of their extra player to work the ball to their winger who touched down in the corner. The sides exchanged possession and turnovers for the next 10 minutes and the WJAAs showed their ruthless streak by taking the points on offer when England were penalized in front of their posts for hands in the ruck. Meya Bizer kicked the penalty, 22-5 WJAAS.
The US forwards were now starting to assert themselves on their opposition, forcing England’s scrum to retreat, and creating turnovers at the set piece. From one such scrum came the WJAAs’ fourth try. Jordan Gray picked the ball at eight and carried three English defenders with her over the line, 27-5, with still 20 minutes to play. England, staring at a third-successive defeat, refused to go down without a fight and threw all they had at the young Eagles. This charge was then aided by the sin binning of Bizer who was sent from the field for an unlawful tackle. With only 14 players and 10 minutes to play, England found an extra gear and ran in two late tries to leave the final score at 27-17.
“At times today our play was exceptional,” said Head Coach Danielle Miller. “We set out with a game plan and the girls showed great discipline and composure to execute that plan efficiently and ruthlessly. We set ourselves a challenge today, to continue the standards we set in the last game. We cannot wait to have another crack at Canada on Sunday.”
The U20 Nations Cup Final will kick off at 12:00 P.M. ET Sunday, July 21. Follow @aarugby on Twitter for live updates from Trent College as the WJAAs take on Canada.
USA Rugby AIG Women's Junior All-Americans | vs. England
1. Dorothy Mittow (Princeton)
2. LauraBen Moore (Brandeis University)
3. Markliann Hoyne (Texas A&M) (Fonua @ 55)
4. Hannah Price (Clemson, University)
5. Chidinma "Chi Chi" Chukwueke (Georgia Tech) (Pinson @ 12)
6. Kelsey Harris (Penn State University)
7. Elizabeth Cairns (Penn State University)
8. Jordan Gray (BYU) (Howard @ 60)
9. Cassidy Meyers (Kent High School) (Previte @ 63)
10. Anne Peterson (Washington State University) (Cantorna @ 63)
11. Natalie Kosko (Quinnipiac University)
12. Brianna Troyer (Penn State University)
13. Meya Bizer (Penn State University)
14. Stephanie Browne (University of Florida)
15. Margaret Myles (West Carroll High School)
USA Rugby AIG Women's Junior All-Americans | Reserves
16. Maxine Fonua (Stanford)
17. Amee Svatos (Pandas Varsity, B.C.)
18. Megan Pinson (Fallbrook High School)
19. Katana Howard (University of Minnesota)
20. Miranda Previte (Rutgers University)
21. Gabriella Cantorna (State College High School)
22. Nicole Heavirland (Exeter High School)
23. Stacey Wong (University of California Berkley)
USA Rugby AIG Women's Junior All-Americans | 27
Tries: Gray (2), Chukwueke, Kosco
Conversions: Peterson (3)
England | 17
Tries: Molesworth, Fuggle, Lee