Stars and Stripes 5
Las Vegas, Nev. -- The first match of the day kicked off early at 8 a.m. with the Stars and Stripes, USA's developmental side, facing off against the Netherlands. The Stars and Stripes pinned the Netherlands back in their half early in the game with some big hits and good counter rucking.
When the Netherlands could finally control their rucks they showed superb handling abilities and skill. Finally finding a way to secure the breakdowns against the relentless Stars and Stripes counter rucking, the Netherlands began to put phases together and work the ball from side to side, testing the American defense.
Once the defense was spread and unorganzied the Netherlands unleashed their big speedster Pien Sellbeck who broke through the defensive line with a huge hand off that got the crowd roaring. She broke two more tackles on her way to the try line and the first points of the Women's International 7s Invitiational. The try was converted and the Netherlands led 7 to 0.
Once the Stars and Stripes regathered themselves from the first strike of the day, they began to show pressure once again and develop their phases around the pitch. Counter rucking was the most common spectacle during this match, seeing good technique and strong turnover ball eveyr few phases.
As the rucking was intesne, so were the tackles. The match was riddled with big hits that allowed teams to win turnover ball and advance on lengthy breaks. One such break saw the Netherlands' Annemarije Van Rossum side step her way past some American defenders into the try zone. Conversion was missed and the Netherlands led 12 to 0.
Late in the game the Stars and Stripes kept to their intensity at the rucks. A penalty was given to the Americans just ourside the try line and Jllion Potter took the it upon herslef to bulldoze her way in for a five pointer. The conversion was missed and the game ended Netherlands 12, Stars and Stripes 5.
The second match of the day for an American side saw the USA Women's Eagles meet Japan in a much anticipated match. Both teams came out fast and strong flexing their speed and precision with the ball in hand. A the phases moved from side to side both defensive systems were tested and individual athleticism got the crowd going. After both teams made spectacular plays on both sides of the ball, weakness in the Japanese defense began to show.
After penalties were given away the Japanese found themselves in USA terrtiory looking to strike first. Japan moved the ball to their speedster Yoko Suzuki who cut past the Amercian defense for the first points of the match. Conversion was missed and Japan led 5 to 0.
After many efforts at trying to find a way through the Japanese defense the Eagles resorted to their speed and unleashed Victoria Folayan on the wing for a 70 meter try. Elizabeth Black showed her skill by completing the conversion and moving the Eagles into the lead 7 to 5.
The match continued with mounting pressure form the Eagles as they worked their way down to the Japanese 5 meter line and pushed their way over the line for another try. The conversion was missed and the USA was leading the Japanese 12 to 5 at half.
The second half began with intense speed and pressure from the USA's Vanesha McGee as she sped along the touch line but was unlucky with her handling and gave up a knock on. Japan cleared the ball, and relieved the pressure. In the resulting play Japan showed undisciplined play and gave the Eagles a penalty which resulted in the Americans sending it wide to Amy Daniels who scooted around the Japanese defense and dotted down in the corner for another five-pointer. The conversion was missed and the USA led Japan 17 to 5.
Though Japan mounted the pressure late in the game the clock decided to spare them no sympathy as the match ended as the Japanese were setting up another attack in USA territory. The match ended with both teams still fired up and seemingly ready to go another 14 minutes. USA Eagles 17, Japan 5.
Stars and Stripes 7
The Stars and Stripes went into the second match of their day with something to prove to not only the growing number of fans crowding around the pitch but also to them selves after a close defeat at the hands of the Netherlands. Canada, coming out of a strong performance against Brazil earleir in the morning, was set on displaying their skill and strength from early on.
The match was a battle at the breakdown. The Americans held their own by depending on their superior technique but were pushed to the brink by Canada's sheer size and ferocity in the tackle and in the breakdown. The contest at the tackle area wore out the Americans fast and reuslted in gaps opening up in the defensive sytem they had worked so hard to keep tight.
The Canadians got out to a fast lead and never took their foot off the pedal. The northeners sent four seperate players over the try line and nailed three conversions to record 26 points to the Stars and Stripes 7. The match saw unprecendented physicality delivered by the Canadians but also great technique and skill by the American squad. The Canadians look to have their eyes set on the championship as their sheer size and visible motivation on the pitch gave the crowd something to enjoy.
Maple Leafs 7
Stars and Stripes 36