Women's Sevens
12 0
10 10
Women's Sevens  @ The Sevens Stadium
Dubai Sevens
  Sara Cox
Match 5

Emba seals Eagles comeback against Russia

 Michael Lee / KLC fotos

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Cheta Emba could not have picked a better time to score her first career HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series try than her game-winner in the Women's Eagles Sevens' 12-10 defeat of Russia at Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Thursday.

Richie Walker's squad was kept quiet through most of the first Pool A match, escaping its defensive half once in the first seven-minute frame. While the team will target an improved performance against South Africa in its next match at 7:24 a.m. ET, the points gained from the win will go a long way towards qualification for Friday's Cup round in a pool with Rio 2016 gold medalist Australia. Fans in the United States can watch Dubai Sevens free on The Rugby Channel.

The game started slowly as both teams looked to find their footing in the first round of the 2016-17 Series. Early possession from Emba put the ball in the U.S. half, where it remained despite changing hands on several occasions. Olympians Lauren Doyle and Alev Kelter attempted to break the gain line to varying degrees of success while Emba and fellow Series debutante Bulou Mataitoga adapted to the international speed of play.

Russian captain Nadezda Kudinova took a tap from an Eagles penalty at the attacking 10 and needed just one pass to Marina Petrova for the opening score, with her teammate picking a line and sticking to it to reach the corner of the try zone. The U.S. was pinged for two infractions along the touch line on the next possession, though Kudinova kept play moving from the second to draw the space for Kristina Seredina to extend the halftime lead to 10-0.

Russia botched an opportunity to pile on the pressure with a forward pass after Kelter's second-half restart failed to travel the required 10 meters. Kelter kicked a grubber from the scrum to put the ball across the midfield line, and the Eagles chased to draw a penalty in attacking territory. There was nothing doing until the 12th minute, when substitutes Kayla Canett - on debut - and Joanne Fa'avesi provided the game-breaking difference from the bench.

Fa'avesi entered the scrum for her first action of the season and relished contact with ball in hand to change the momentum of the U.S. attack. Her ability to read the defense also resulted in a pop pass to a hard-charging Kelter 15 meters from the try line, only for match official Sara Cox to blow the whistle for a forward pass.

The Eagles stole the ensuing scrum, however, and Doyle finished the quick attack in the try zone when Mataitoga took two defenders into contact and offloaded to her captain. Kelter quickly converted, 10-7, and rushed to midfield, where she kicked a high restart for Emba and Fa'avesi to chase. Fa'avesi came away with the ball and ran down the middle of the field before finding Emba in support for the game-winning score, 12-10.

South Africa had a tough task in opening the 2016-17 season against Australia, and failed the first test in a 38-5 defeat. Walker's side is up next at 7:24 a.m. ET, with the live broadcast available on The Rugby Channel.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Russia

1. Cheta Emba

2. Ryan Carlyle

3. Kate Zackary

4. Alev Kelter

5. Nicole Heavirland

6. Lauren Doyle

7. Naya Tapper

8. Joanne Fa'avesi

9. Nicole Strasko

10. Kayla Canett

11. Kristine Sommer

12. Bulou Mataitoga

Russia | v. USA

1. Anna Minislamova

2. Arina Bystrova

3. Daria Bobkova

4. Alena Mikhaltsova

5. Anna Gavrilyuk

6. Nikolilna Riashina

7. Marina Petrova

8. Liudmila Artamonova

9. Nadezda Kudinova

10. Elena Zdrokova

11. Kristina Seredina

12. Mariia Perestiak

Women's Eagles Sevens | 12

Tries: Doyle, Emba

Conversions: Kelter

Russia | 10

Tries: Petrova, Seredina

Conversions: N/A

Women's Eagles Sevens | Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens

v. Russia - W 12-10

v. South Africa - Thursday, Dec. 1 @ 7:24 a.m. ET

v. Australia - Thursday, Dec. 1 @ 10:43 a.m. ET

Fixed Banner