PARIS, France – Tears streamed down the face of Shaina Turley following the fifth-place match of the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 at Stade Jean Bouin. A 55-5 loss to New Zealand capped off a 2-3 performance in Paris, seeing the Women’s Eagles into sixth place.
“I think everyone will walk off the field disappointed today,” said Pete Steinberg after witnessing Turley’s emotions. “But I think we all walk away from the World Cup proud of some of our performances that we’ve had.”
Playing in the self-dubbed “Pool of Death,” Steinberg said the Eagles saw “arguably the toughest five games of anyone here.”
The U.S., pooled with Ireland, Kazakhstan and New Zealand, moved on to the fifth-eighth-place rounds to play Australia and subsequently the Black Ferns again.
For the Eagles, the second meeting against the four-time and reigning champion Black Ferns ended in the largest loss of the 2014 campaign. The disappointment in the match, however, did not dampen Turley’s support of the team.
“Regardless of the play, you always hold your heads high when you wear the jersey,” said Turley, the Eagles’ captain. “We put it all out there, and we are proud of each other.”
Steinberg said the inability to recover from a physical Australia match led to the result.
“For us to be able to play with New Zealand, we have to be at our best,” said Steinberg. “I’m not sure we had much left after that game and I think that showed today.”
The Black Ferns totaled nine tries and five conversions to the U.S.’s lone try.
Kimber Rozier intercepted a New Zealand pass before dashing 50 meters for the try.
The second half score was one of the bright spots for the Eagles, who again had scores taken away.
Two tries against New Zealand during pool play were errantly taken away.
“We got another bad break when the first try was not awarded for Lynelle’s try,” said Steinberg. “Scoring was tough for us and losing that opportunity was difficult.”
Another highlight for the Eagles came with Jamie Burke earning her 51st – and potentially final – cap. Burke is the most-capped player in Women’s Eagles history.
An emotional Turley announced her retirement following the match.
“It’s been a great experience here, but from here I go back to work,” said Turley. “Unfortunately, no more rugby for me. I’ll be done.”
The Eagles held the Black Ferns close in the opening portion of the match - resembling the territory-dominated segment of the first meeting.
“After playing New Zealand the first time we felt that there were periods of that game that we could actually play with them and we went out for the first 20 minutes and did that,” said Steinberg of the performance.
However the fatigue set in as New Zealand closed out the half with five tries.
An early try in the opening minutes of the second half was boosted by three tries as the period drew to a close.
Moments after the opening kick, the Eagles pressured the Black Ferns into a turnover, utilizing the territory.
Meya Bizer was able to thread Lynelle Kugler through for a try from 30 meters out, but the play was called back for a forward pass.
Handling errors proved costly in the early going, despite a strong defensive performance that held the desired territory.
With ball in hand, the Black Ferns slowly powered their way down the pitch before Aroha Savage landed across the try line. The flanker opened the scoring to give New Zealand a 5-0 lead.
From there, handling errors from both sides ruled the game and halted territorial movements.
After minutes of back-and-forth play, the Black Ferns were first to correct the mistakes to set up Rawinia Everitt for the next score. Kelly Brazier was unable to connect on the conversion again to leave the score at 10-0.
A knock-on during the ensuing kickoff put the Eagles on the front foot. However, another forward pass handed the ball to the Black Ferns, who drove the 95 meters for a try.
Shakira Baker notched her sixth try of the tournament to edge New Zealand further ahead. The Brazier conversion pushed the score to 17-0.
Not to be outdone by her teammate, Selica Winiata scored a try on the next kickoff to earn her sixth score of the World Cup. Brazier again converted the try to make the score 24-0.
A handling error in Eagles territory gave way to the final try of the half.
Amiria Rule broke the defensive line and delivered to Honey Hireme, who finished the play for a try. Brazier made her third consecutive conversion to further New Zealand’s lead, 31-0.
The Eagles charged into Black Fern territory as the half ended; however, Hope Rogers could not dot the ball down despite crossing the try line.
Another attempt by Carmen Farmer was again held up by New Zealand.
A penalty to the Eagles extended the half, but a knock-on ended the drive, opportunity, and half.
Hireme kept the Black Fern momentum going in the second half.
Shortly after restarting the match, the wing ran around Eagles’ defenders to score a try in the corner. Unconverted, the momentum sat with the Black Ferns at 36-0.
Losing territory, the Eagles cleared the ball to midfield. On the counter attack, Rozier read the Black Ferns’ change in direction, intercepting the pass.
The flyhalf outran New Zealand defenders for the Eagles’ lone score. Unable to convert her try, the match sat at 36-5.
Hireme then recorded her third try for New Zealand. The wing broke several tackles on her way to the try zone. Brazier converted the kick for a 43-5 lead.
New Zealand remained in possession of the territory for the remainder of the half, but not until the closing minutes would the Black Ferns strike again.
Aleisha Nelson added a try in the Black Ferns’ favor with 10 minutes remaining. The reserve prop had the try converted by Brazier to make the score 50-5.
Hireme finished the game by adding her fourth try. Unconverted, the scoring and game concluded with New Zealand ahead at 55-5.
The match was the final match of the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup for the Eagles.
The cycle for the 2018 World Cup has begun.
Women's Eagles | v New Zealand
1. Sarah Chobot
2. Kathryn Augustyn
3. Hope Rogers
4. Carmen Farmer
5. Sarah Walsh
6. Shaina Turley (C)
7. Lynelle Kugler
8. Jillion Potter
9. Jocelyn Tseng
10. Kimberly Rozier
11. Nathalie Marchino
12. Sylvia Braaten
13. Emilie Bydwell
14. Vanesha McGee
15. Meya Bizer
New Zealand | Starting XV
1. Ruth McKay
2. Fiao’o Fa’amausili (C)
3. Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox
4. Eloise Blackwell
5. Rawinia Everitt
6. Aroha Savage
7. Justine Lavea
8. Linda Itunu
9. Kendra Cocksedge
10. Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali
11. Shakira Baker
12. Amiria Rule
13. Kelly Brazier
14. Honey Hireme
15. Selica Winiata
New Zealand | Reserves
16. Kathleen Wilton
17. Aleisha Nelson
18. Jackie Patea
19. Casey Robertson
20. Emma Jensen
21. Halie Tiplady-Hurring
22. Renee Wikliffe
Women's Eagles | 5
New Zealand | 55
Tries: Savage, Everitt, Baker, Winiata, Hireme (4), Nelson
Conversions: Brazier (5)