GREELEY, Colo. – The Women’s Eagles and Canada kicked off the 2013 Women’s Nations Cup with wins Tuesday at the University of Northern Colorado.
In the tournament opener, England took an early lead against the Maple Leafs with a second-minute penalty kick from Megan Goddard. Canada replied with a good run from Kelly Russell, but the England defense held at the line.
Elissa Alarie scored the first try of the match in the 11th minute and Andrea Burk added the conversion for a 7-3 lead. Goddard cut the lead to one with another penalty kick five minutes later.
Lydia Thompson gave England the lead again in the 19th minute and Goddard made an impressive sideline conversion, but Canada wasted no time in getting a try of their own from Cheryl Phillips to make it 12-13. A penalty kick and another try from Alarie sent Canada into halftime with a 19-13 lead.
England’s Zoey Saynor dove on a loose ball in the try zone in the 41st minute to draw within one, but could not find sustained pressure before another Canada try in the 48th minute.
The final 20 minutes of the match were mostly spent in England’s attacking half, as Canada failed to clear the ball. Down 24-18, the English players knew a single try was all they needed. With three minutes remaining, they got it, but Canada showed their composure by scoring on the next possession and taking the 29-25 win.
“We put ourselves under pressure in those 20 minutes with our own mistakes,” Canada Head Coach Francois Ratier said. “We need to make some adjustments for the next game. But I’m very happy we were able to bounce back.”
The Eagles took an early lead of their own against South Africa in the fifth minute of the day’s second match through Hope Rogers and Sadie Anderson’s conversion, then padded it with a 30-meter Anderson penalty kick.
Mathrin Simmers made a nice move to dodge a tackle in the 18th minute and outran Christy Ringgenberg to the corner of the try zone to put South Africa on the board at 10-5.
Emilie Bydwell broke through the Springbok defense three minutes later and had to reach across the line to dot down for the try, which gave the Eagles a 15-5 lead. South Africa should have added a try of their own with a chip kick into the try zone, but the Springbok could not handle the ball and knocked it.
The ensuing scrum came out wide for South Africa, however, and Marlien Cronje scored in the corner to bring the score to 15-10. Ashley Kmiecik and Kate Daley took advantage of advanced field position and played a neat one-two to allow Kmiecik space to score a try of her own. The Eagles took the 20-10 lead into halftime.
An extended injury stoppage five minutes into the second half gave the teams an even longer break, and South Africa capitalized first with a try from Mara Williams.
Sylvia Braaten and Shaina Turley each added a try in the second frame, South Africa’s Zenoy Jordaan scored a consolation try and the Eagles opened their Nations Cup campaign with a 35-22 win.
“In moments, I think we played better in the second half,” Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg said. “It’s just a matter of consistency. We have to learn to play a little smarter. When we were able to retain the ball, we played really well.
“South Africa is always going to score tries and they will throughout this tournament, and they were quick enough and athletic enough to challenge us today.”
The Eagles take on Canada Saturday in Greeley at 6:00 P.M. MT on USA Rugby TV, while England and South Africa will kick off at 4:00 P.M. MT. To see the full schedule, visit the Nations Cup Information Center.
Women's Eagles | vs. South Africa
1. Hope Rogers
2. Kittery Wagner
3. Jamie Burke
4. Carmen Farmer
5. Molly Kinsella
6. Stacey Bridges
7. Shaina Turley
8. Jillion Potter
9. Kate Daley
10. Sadie Anderson
11. Erica Cavanaugh
12. Sylvia Braaten
13. Emilie Bydwell
14. Ashley Kmiecik
15. Christy Ringgenberg
Women's Eagles | 32
Tries: Rogers, Bydwell, Kmiecik, Braaten, Turley
Conversions: Anderson, Rozier
South Africa | 22
Tries: Simmers, Cronje, Williams, Jordaan