Women's Sevens
10 5
19 5
Women's Sevens  @ Allianz Stadium
Sydney 7s
  Adam Jones

Tapper double not enough as Eagles fall to Russia in Sydney

 Michael Lee / KLC fotos

SYDNEY, Australia - Naya Tapper recorded both of the Women's Eagles Sevens' tries in a 19-10 loss to Russia Thursday (U.S. time) in pool play at HSBC Sydney7s.

Both teams were plagued by turnovers but it was Russia's double from Alena Mikhaltsova that created the nine-point gap by the final whistle. Head Coach Richie Walker's squad will continue its quest for Cup Quarterfinal qualification with its second match of Pool C against England, scheduled to be broadcast live on The Rugby Channel at 11:12 p.m. ET.

Captain Alev Kelter used her boot to maximum effect to begin the game, putting Russia under pressure with a high restart. Cheta Emba made an early tackle, and Ryan Carlyle pounced on a poor pass behind the opponent's 22 to give the Eagles their first possession. Two passes later, Tapper found the ball in her hands with one defender between her and the line. The University of North Carolina Tar Heel was not held to the ground by the Russian, and found her feet to dot down over for a 5-0 lead.

Following her missed conversion, Kelter sent the ensuing restart into touch for a free play at midfield for Russia. An advantage for a penalty against the Eagles was played a minute later, but Mariia Perestiak caused confusion at the U.S. defensive line to free Elena Zdrokova along the wing for the try.

The Eagles survived Baizat Khamidova's chip kick behind the defense as the ball rolled past the end line in the sixth minute, and benefitted from mishandled possession as much as Russia did to remain level at 5-5 after seven minutes.

An Emba run down the touch line drew a penalty in the opening phase of the second half, allowing the Eagles to set up an attacking platform in Russia's half. Though they would lose possession to a knock in the middle of the field, Tapper picked up a loose ball at the 22 to dart into the in-goal area, restoring the U.S. lead at 10-5.


The missed conversions - the second by Nicole Heavirland - would come back to bite the Eagles, with Mikhaltsova's 11th-minute try converted for a 12-10 Russian lead. Feeling the clock slip away, the Eagles tried to put the ball in the hands of one of the speedsters on the field. Kristen Thomas - back from injury - lost the ball forward in the breakdown for an extended Russian possession and could not bring Mikhaltsova down 15 meters from the try line.

A last-gasp effort to cut into the 19-10 deficit with less than a minute remaining in the match failed, giving the Eagles an uphill battle to climb heading into their next game against England. Post-match, Tapper identified the team's connectivity in defense and execution as areas needing improvement at the onset of the two-day tournament. Sydney7s continues through Thursday night (U.S. time) and can be viewed live in the United States on The Rugby Channel.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Russia

1. Cheta Emba

2. Kristen Thomas

3. Kelly Griffin

4. Ryan Carlyle

5. Nicole Heavirland

6. Alev Kelter

7. Naya Tapper

8. Kate Zackary

9. Joanne Fa'avesi

10. Kayla Canett

11. Hope Rogers

12. Sarah Buonopane

Russia | v. USA

1. Anna Minislamova

2. Arina Bystrova

3. Daria Bobkova

4. Alena Mikhaltsova

5. Baizat Khamidova

6. Nikolina Riashina

7. Marina Petrova

8. Daria Noritsina

9. Liudmila Artamonova

10. Elena Zdrokova

11. Kristina Seredina

12. Mariia Perestiak

Women's Eagles Sevens | 10

Tries: Tapper (2)

Conversions: N/A

Russia | 19

Tries: Zdrokova, Mikhaltsova (2)

Conversions: Artamonova (2)

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Sydney7s

v. Russia - L 19-10

v. England - Thursday, Feb. 2 @ 11:12 p.m. ET

v. Spain - Friday, Feb. 3 @ 1:54 a.m. ET