PARIS, France – With “Final in ‘14” no longer a possibility, the Women’s Eagles quickly gained a new focus only seconds after the New Zealand match at IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014: play New Zealand again.
“Our goal now is to win and play [New Zealand] again,” stated Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg following the 34-3 loss to the Black Ferns Saturday. “Our goal is to get to play the Black Ferns in the stadium on the last day.”
Standing in the way of that rematch for the Eagles is Australia. The U.S. must defeat the Wallaroos Wednesday for a shot at fifth place and the best possible chance for redemption against New Zealand.
New Zealand, a team that has lost only twice in 31 World Cup appearances, faces Wales Wednesday. The winner of the match will move on to the fifth-place match, while the loser will compete for seventh.
“We are looking to get back to 2-2 and we know Australia will be tough,” noted the head coach. “We know they will be a challenge.”
The Wallaroos went 2-1 during pool play, defeating South Africa and Wales before falling to Pool C champion France.
Steinberg anticipates Australia’s kicking game to be the focus of the match.
“[Australia’s] fullback is probably the best kicker here (at the World Cup),” remarked Steinberg of Ashleigh Hewson’s boot. “We need to make sure that we win the battle of the half by countering their kicks well.”
Hewson has accounted for 29 points through the first three matches. In total, the fullback has booted six penalty goals and three conversions on the back of a try against South Africa.
In addition to shutting down the dynamic Wallaroo backline, the Eagles hope to have an edge in the forwards, as well.
“We want to have an edge in scrums and lineouts,” added Steinberg. “They have dangerous backs so we need to focus on launching hard and taking away their wide attack.”
As a result of the wide attack, wing Tricia Brown has dotted down three tries for Australia - tied for the most during World Cup play. Sharni Williams is not far behind, having earned two scores from the center position.
A notable change to the Eagles’ roster is Carrie White. The scrumhalf joined the Eagles’ roster after Kate Daley broke her leg in the loss to New Zealand.
White is listed as a reserve while Shaina Turley will assume Daley’s position as captain.
“Kate did a great job as one of the captains of the team and her loss is being felt,” said Steinberg on the loss of Daley. “However, I am confident that the team leadership will work hard to fill the void and the team will rally for the Australia game.
“We brought in Carrie as Kate was also our backup scrumhalf. Shaina has taken on the on-field captaincy and Jillion Potter will be moving to number-eight.”
With the start at prop, Jamie Burke will earn her 50th cap.
“It is great to be a part of such a historic moment,” Steinberg noted of the most-capped Eagles’ achievement. “Fifty caps for Jamie is great and Shaina presented her with her jersey at the ceremony and it was very moving.”
While the roster remains predominantly the same, Hannah Stolba has been named as the starting flyhalf. Steinberg expects her to be a strong kicking option in response to Australia’s tactics.
In the series against the Wallaroos, the Eagles have remained unbeaten through four matches. First meeting in Australia in 1997, the U.S. has claimed each victory by at least four points.
The opening match, played in Australia, stands as the only friendly of the series - with the Eagles claiming the match, 28-24.
In three World Cup meetings, two of the matches occurred during the 2006 tournament. During pool matches, the Eagles squeaked out the closest contest of the series, 10-6.
For the meeting in the placement rounds, and the most recent meeting between the teams, the U.S. won, 29-12.
The Eagles claimed the 2002 World Cup test, 18-0.
Women's Eagles | v Australia
1. Sarah Chobot
2. Kathryn Augustyn
3. Jamie Burke
4. Carmen Farmer
5. Sarah Walsh
6. Shaina Turley (C)
7. Lynelle Kugler
8. Jillion Potter
9. Jocelyn Tseng
10. Hannah Stolba
11. Nathalie Marchino
12. Emilie Bydwell
13. Akalaini "Bui" Baravilala
14. Sadie Anderson
15. Meya Bizer
Australia | Starting XV
1. Liz Patu
2. Louise Burrows
3. Oneata Schwalger
4. Rebecca Clough
5. Alisha Hewett
6. Shannon Parry (C)
7. Rebecca Smyth
8. Mollie Gray
9. Nita Maynard
10. Tui Ormsby
11. Cobie-Jane Morgan
12. Hanna Sio
13. Sharni Williams
14. Tricia Brown
15. Ashleigh Hewson
Australia | Reserves
16. Margaret Watson
17. Angela Hipwell
18. Michelle Milward
19. Dalena Dennison
20. Ashley Marsters
21. Natasha Haines
22. Madeline Putz
Women's Eagles | IRB Women's Rugby World Cup 2014
v Australia - Wednesday, Aug. 13 - 12:30 P.M. ET