Women's Sevens
33 21
12 0
Women's Sevens  @ Fifth Third Bank Stadium
Atlanta Sevens
The Rugby Channel


KENNESAW, Ga. - The Women's Eagles Sevens scored five tries in a 33-12 defeat of Japan Friday at HSBC Atlanta 7s, securing a place in Saturday's Cup Quarterfinals.

Kate Zackary scored two tries in the match, in which head coach Richie Walker made five changes to the starting seven that shut out Spain earlier in the day at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University. Nicole Heavirland kicked two of the U.S.'s four successful conversions, and nearly crossed the try line herself in her first career start on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series.

Captain Jillion Potter put the Eagles in Japan's attacking half with a sidestep and break near midfield, and Richelle Stephens took the ball from the ensuing breakdown. The 19-year-old scored her second career try by fending a defender beside the ruck and racing 40 meters to the posts.

The restart eluded Japan for a U.S. scrum before the Eagles stuttered on the attack, which moved backwards from the 22 to midfield. Kristen Thomas received the ball in the middle of the pitch and took a few steps to beat her opposite number, dotting down in-goal in the fourth minute.

Heavirland did all the hard work to score a try at the end of the half, but could not quite outlast the sweeper, falling to a tackle meters in front of the posts. She drew a penalty, however, and Stephens quickly took the tap and fed Zackary for the powering run over the line and a 21-0 halftime lead.

"I was going all out and knew my support was going to be there, so I felt comfortable going through," Heavirland said of her almost-try.

The Eagles continued to search for points as Walker introduced his reserves to the match. Lauren Doyle, scorer of two tries in the defeat of Spain, beat three defenders inside the attacking 22 and offloaded in contact to Jessica Javelet on the outside in the 10th minute. The wing was tackled ahead of the in-goal area, but Zackary was there again to support and push over a defender at the try line for a 26-0 lead.

Walker had highlighted the defensive work of the Eagles in the first match Friday, which saw Spain relegated to one attacking run and zero scoring opportunities in 14 minutes. The head coach also foresaw Japan's skill with ball in hand and support lines causing his team's defense problems, which occurred with two second-half tries by the visiting team.

"We want to always shut [our opponents] out, but we just lost a little bit of communication and it won't happen again," Heavirland said. "That's our main focus going into the next match."

Megan Bonny finished off the match with a try following a long run from Doyle to bring the final score to 33-12. While the Cup round is on the horizon, the Eagles must still play reigning Series champion New Zealand in their final match of pool play.

"We're really looking forward to it," Heavirland said. "We're going to give them a run for their money and win."

New Zealand struggled to score as many points in its second match as it did in its first against Japan, nearly succumbing to a late shock in a 10-5 defeat of Spain. The match between Walker's Eagles and New Zealand is scheduled for a 7:26 p.m. ET kickoff on The Rugby Channel, with the winner set to represent Pool C in the knockout round as top seed.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Japan

1. Jillion Potter (C)

2. Megan Bonny

3. Kate Zackary

4. Amelia Bizer

5. Ryan Carlyle

6. Nicole Heavirland

7. Alev Kelter

8. Bui Baravilala

9. Lauren Doyle

10. Richelle Stephens

11. Kristen Thomas

12. Jessica Javelet

Japan | v. USA

1. Chiharu Nakamura

2. Makiko Tomita

3. Ai Nakamura

4. Misaki Suzuki

5. Maki Takano

6. Ano Kuwai

7. Marie Yamaguchi

8. Chisato Yokoo

9. Mio Yamanaka

10. Ayaka Suzuki

11. Noriko Taniguchi

12. Kana Mitsugi

Women's Eagles Sevens | 33

Tries: Stephens, Thomas, Zackary (2), Bonny

Conversions: Baravilala, Heavirland (2), Kelter

Japan | 12

Tries: Tomita, Takano

Conversions: Nakamura

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Atlanta Sevens

v. Spain - W 24-0

v. Japan - W 33-12

v. New Zealand - Friday, April 8 @ 7:26 p.m. ET