GREELEY, Colo. – The Women’s Eagles defeated Canada 29-17 at the 2013 Women’s Nations Cup Sunday to move to 2-0, while England defeated South Africa 18-17 in a nail-biter for their first win of the tournament at the University of Northern Colorado.
South Africa pressured England early on in the first match of Day Two at Nations Cup and were rewarded with the opening try. Zenay Jordaan benefited from an advanced field position and touched down in the corner before Marnezelle Rabie completed a tough-angle conversion.
England had trouble keeping South Africa at bay and even their clearance kicks were under pressure. In the 17th minute, however, a nifty switch to Lauren Cattell just outside the try zone caught the South Africa defense on the back foot. Cattell fed Amy Wilson-Hardy for an easy try between the sticks and a tie game at 7-7.
A chip and chase by South Africa in the 29th was gathered by England, but the pace and pressure of the Springbok attack caused a turnover. Nolusindiso Booi took advantage of the turnover and gave her team a 12-7 lead.
South Africa added another try three minutes before the halftime whistle from a lineout near England’s 22. Jordaan took the ball and beat two defenders in the middle of the field to find the try zone. The Springboks went into halftime with a 17-7 lead.
England got back into it four minutes into the second half with a Cattell penalty kick, but nearly let South Africa extend the lead ten minutes later. Daphne Scheepers kicked a loose ball down field and chased after it, beating the final England defender in the process. Her second kick put the ball just outside of the try zone, but she knocked on in her attempt to pick up the ball.
Cattell added another penalty kick in the 60th minute to draw within a try of the lead at 13-17. Reminiscent of their opening match of the Nations Cup Tuesday against Canada, England was in a position to take the lead with only minutes remaining in the match. From a lineout near the try zone, an England maul resulted in Rochelle Clark scoring the match-winning try with six minutes remaining.
Only down by one at 17-18, South Africa had a golden opportunity to snatch a late victory of their own in the 78th minute. Jordaan, the captain, missed a penalty kick from nearly 25 meters and England held the ball for the remaining minutes to earn their first win of the tournament.
In the second match of the day, the Women’s Eagles started on the front foot and were awarded an early penalty in the sixth minute. Kimber Rozier missed the kick, but Lynelle Kugler redeemed her with a try two minutes later. Canada had two penalty kicks of their own in the first 15 minutes but failed to convert either of them.
Christy Ringgenberg blocked a Canadian clearance kick in the Eagles’ attacking try zone in the 19th minute and expected the try to be awarded, but she was deemed to be offside.
In her first start for the Eagles at Nations Cup, Nathalie Marchino received the ball on the wing in the 25th minute and used her pace to beat the Canada defense to the try zone. Rozier missed the conversion but the Eagles had an important two-try lead at 10-0.
A threatening Canada lineout in the 30th minute almost resulted in the first Canadian try, but the Eagles kept out the maul before Emilie Bydwell was sent to the sin bin. With a player advantage, Canada put together another maul and pushed through for a try. The Eagles led 10-5 at the half.
Sarah Chobot came into the match early in the second half, replacing Jamie Burke, who earned her 40th Eagles cap Sunday. Chobot made an immediate impact with a try in the 50th minute and Rozier converted it for a 17-5 lead.
Canada struck back right away through Laura Russell to cut the deficit to 12-17, but the Eagles replied with a try of their own. Good pressure and movement just outside the try zone stirred both benches before an Eagles knock on turned over the ball. Canada won the ensuing scrum but turned the ball over themselves and Chobot again found the try zone for a 22-12 lead.
Elissa Alarie made a big run through the middle of the field a few minutes later and set up Jane Kirby for a try. Alarie almost repeated the feat after the restart, but Marchino and Ringgenberg showed their sevens speed and caught her.
With Canada down by a try, the Eagles pushed for another in the final ten minutes of the match and got it from Kristin Zdanczewicz. Meya Bizer converted to put Canada out of reach at 29-17.
“It’s been a really long time since we’ve beaten Canada,” Chobot said after the match. “I think it’s a big statement from where we’ve come from. If you look at Nations Cup two years ago, we lost to South Africa and beat them this year. This is a team that’s figured it out and it’s just a matter of getting better and better.”
The Eagles are the only remaining unbeaten team at Nations Cup with wins against Canada and South Africa. Canada and England, who played each other Tuesday, each have one win, while South Africa remains winless with a match against Canada scheduled Wednesday.
The Eagles face England Wednesday with a win sealing a spot in the Nations Cup Final Saturday at Infinity Park at Glendale.
“England just had a tough series against New Zealand a week or so ago,” Chobot said. “So if we just do what we need to do – just take care of us – we’ll be fine.”
Watch Canada vs. South Africa and the Eagles vs. England Wednesday beginning at 4:00 P.M. MT on USA Rugby TV. Follow @USARugby on Twitter for live updates and visit the Nations Cup Information Center for all of the tournament news.
Women's Eagles | vs. Canada
1. Hope Rogers
2. Katy Augustyn
3. Jamie Burke
4. Carmen Farmer
5. Sarah Walsh
6. Shaina Turley
7. Lynelle Kugler
8. Jillion Potter
9. Jocelyn Tseng
10. Kimber Rozier
11. Nathalie Marchino
12. Sylvia Braaten
13. Emilie Bydwell
14. Erica Cavanaugh
15. Christy Ringgenberg
Women's Eagles | 29
Tries: Kugler, Marchino, Chobot (2), Zdanczewicz
Conversions: Rozier, Bizer
Canada | 17
Tries: Russell, Kirby