OXNARD, Calif. -- Another slow start from the Women’s Eagles has resulted in France claiming the second match of the three-test series. Despite a late comeback, Les Bleus were able to even the series with a 27-25 win.
A mirror image from the first meeting in physicality and tactical kicking by the French filled the second meeting between the Women’s Eagles and France. The only difference in the second test was that the deficit was too great to overcome for the Eagles.
“We played a great game and we improved from the first game and that is what we wanted to do,” commented head coach Pete Steinberg following the game. “That was our goal, no matter the outcome.”
Physical play from the forwards, stringent defense from both sides, and the Eagles needing a dynamic second half to surmount the deficit filled the course of the game.
“We put ourselves under pressure, but we are still learning so that is natural to happen,” Steinberg said in response to the lackluster first half performance.
“We just need to do a better job of learning from game to game.”
Sadie Anderson stood out for the Eagles through line-breaks and her kicking performance. The flyhalf made good on two penalties and converted two of three tries for the Women’s Eagles.
“I feel as a team we did really well,” Anderson said. “We were able to string together a lot of phases and we were able to play at the pace we wanted to in the second half. Playing fast is when we really connect and players are able to show what they can do.”
Steinberg also commented on the pace of play having an impact on the game, noting “the team shows spirit and plays for each other, which is really important at this level.”
Being pleased with the performance, the selections now become difficult for the coaching staff.
“The performance we had tonight really showed that we have a lot of depth on the team,” said Steinberg. “For the first time as the Women’s National Team head coach, I have no idea what our best lineup is.”
Another electric second half from the Women’s Eagles saw the USA post 22 points to its credit. Three Eagles penalties, and Les Bleus’ subsequent ability to convert, however, thwarted the late efforts of the Women’s Eagles.
Aurélie Bailon was the difference-maker for France through her kicking. The flyhalf notched five penalty goals as well as converted on one of France’s two tries in the contest. A well placed cross-kick also set up a try for Les Bleus.
Handling miscues coupled with challenges at the breakdown plagued the Women’s Eagles in the opening period. France won the first half through forward physicality and tactical kicking, taking an 18-3 lead into the break.
The Eagles defense held at the 22-meter lines in the opening minutes of the game.
A penalty from Mel Denham coming off of the scrum early allowed Bailon to strike first. With the slotted penalty kick, France jumped ahead, 3-0.
The ensuing kickoff was placed directly into touch and handing France the momentum. Following a few phases, a cross-kick to streaking wing Laëtitia Esteves gave way to the game’s first try.
Anderson turned the tables on the French through kicking and several line-breaks. Following a few minutes of pressure the Women’s Eagles got its first opportunity at points through a penalty kick. Anderson made the kick from 20-meters out to tighten the game, 8-3.
Midway through the first half, Bailon connected on her second penalty kick following an offside penalty from the Women’s Eagles.
The miscues in set pieces again caused problems for the Women’s Eagles in the first half. Following a knock-on from the USA in a lineout, France took advantage of the field location.
Assa Koïta dotted down for Les Bleus after a five-meter break from Safi Ndaiaye. The score was 18-3 after Bailon converted on the try.
Despite a last minute opportunity from Bailon at goal, the halftime score held at 18-3 in favor of France.
The halftime break was enough time to regroup for the Women’s Eagles as the team came out firing. Less than a minute into the half, Sharon Blaney crossed the tryline to make the score 18-8.
Anderson was able to keep the momentum going with a penalty kick. From 22-meters out the score became 18-11.
Grinding it down the field through forward play, Kate Daley found the try zone for the Women’s Eagles. Fast play around the breakdowns led to the try converted by Anderson.
Zdanczewicz was binned after a late hit on Sandrine Agricole. The opportunity, directly in front of the posts, was converted by Bailon to unknot the score at 21-18, France.
In the duration with being a player up, France was only able to muster a penalty kick. Bailon slotted the penalty from 25-meters away to make the score 24-18.
Bailon kept the pressure on the Women’s Eagles, connecting on another penalty kick. The offside penalty resulted in the score becoming 27-18, in favor of France.
A last minute resurgence by the Eagles saw Blaney cross the try-line for her second try of the game. Converted by Anderson, the game ended with France ahead at 27-25.
Three Eagles claimed their first caps in the test. Erin Overcash earned hers with the start at center, while Hope Rogers and Carmen Farmer received theirs by coming from reserve.
Jamie Burke claimed her 37th overall cap as an Eagle, coming on as a reserve.
The final match between the Women’s Eagles and Les Bleus will take place Friday at 5 P.M. PT. Carson, Calif., and the Home Depot Center campus will be home to the third contest, which will precede the Men’s Eagles Pacific Nations Cup match against Tonga.
Universal Sports is scheduled to air both of the matches at the Home Depot Center. Air times have yet to be announced.
The Women’s Eagles were able to outdistance France in the first match of the series, 13-10.
Sarah Chobot and Anderson accounted for all of the Women’s Eagles’ points. Chobot dotted down the lone USA try, while Anderson added two penalty kicks and a conversion kick.
Heading into the third and final match, Anderson leads the Eagles with 18 points of the team’s 38 for the series.
Women's Eagles | vs. France
1. Naima Reddick (Burke @ 70)
2. Kittery Wagner (Keller @ 64)
3. Jessica Davis (Rogers @ 50)
4. Sarah Walsh (Farmer @ 78)
5. Sharon Blaney
6. Mel Denham (Turley @ 58)
7. Kristen Zdanczewicz
8. Kate Daley
9. Carrie White (Lui @ 58)
10. Sadie Anderson
11. Ashley Kmiecik (C)
12. Anne Peterson
13. Erin Overcash (Bonny @ 40)
14. Amanda Street
15. Meya Bizer
1. Hélène Ezanno (Arricastre @ 48)
2. Gaëlle Mignot (C) (Sainlo @ 79)
3. Elodie Portaries (Chobet @ 58)
4. Sandra Rabier (Corson @ 68)
5. Assa Koïta
6. Laëtitia Grand
7. Manon Andre (Diallo @ 68)
8. Safi Ndaiaye
9. Yanna Rivoalen (Yahe @ 73)
10. Aurélie Bailon
11. Laëtitia Esteves
12. Lucille Godiveau (Agricole @ 40)
13. Sandra Metier
14. Larelin Fourcade
15. Audrey Parra
16. Joanna Sainlo
17. Lise Arricastre
18. Christelle Chobet
19. Lénaïg Corson
20. Coumba Diallo
21. Marie-Alice Yahe
22. Clémence Rousseau
23. Sandrine Agricole
USA | 25
Tries: Blaney (2), Daley
Conversions: Anderson (2)
Penalties: Anderson (2)
FRANCE | 27
Tries: Esteves, Koïta
Penalties: Bailon (5)