Women's Sevens
17 7
21 14
Women's Sevens  @ Allianz Stadium
Sydney 7s
  Adam Jones
Cup Final

Canada wins Sydney Cup in instant classic

 Michael Lee / KLC fotos

SYDNEY, Australia - The Women's Eagles Sevens competed in their third-ever HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series Cup Final Saturday at HSBC Sydney7s, finishing runners-up to Canada in a 21-17 thriller.

Naya Tapper, named HSBC Player of the Final post-match, recorded a hat trick of tries as her tournament tally reached nine scores. Head Coach Richie Walker's squad earned 18 points in the second-place effort, jumping to sixth in the Series standings after two of five stops. The Eagles will be seen next at HSBC USA Sevens in Las Vegas, where the Women's Sevens Series makes it North American return March 3-5.

The Eagles did not let Canada grab an upper hand in the opening moments of the Final, with Cheta Emba stopping a Ghislaine Landry grubber attempt with the chase and penalty call. They won the ball again in the breakdown in the third minute, but the match official sent captain Alev Kelter off of the pitch for a suspected hit to the head. Kelter would return to the match for the second half.

Young Kayla Canett was thrown into the Final early and performed admirably, helping to move the Eagles forward in the fourth minute before Tapper opened the scoring. Seeing space on the wing, Tapper beat two defenders for the lengthy try Nicole Heavirland converted, 7-0.

Canada hit back straight away, however, with Tapper the victim out on the wing as Brittany Benn and Charity Williams rounded her and Heavirland in the fifth and seventh minutes, respectively. The tries killed the U.S. momentum heading into halftime with the score 14-7.

With Kelter back on the pitch to take the second-half restart, the Eagles found a groove. Canada lost the ball forward for a U.S. put-in, and quick work to send the ball wide led to Emba combining with Heavirland and Tapper in a three-on-two situation. Tapper kept her feet in play as she fended Williams to race into the try zone, bringing the deficit to two points at 14-12.


A cheeky restart from Kelter saw the ball bounce in front of the Canadian 10, though Canett waited to pick the ball out of the air once it traveled the required distance. The referee was not having it, blowing his whistle to award Canada possession. Another penalty went against the Eagles during Canada's attack, and Bianca Farella managed to ground the ball in-goal through a well-timed Ryan Carlyle tackle.

The slugfest continued with the Eagles down by two scores at 21-12. Substitutes poured onto the field for Walker's side, including Joanne Fa'avesi. Fa'avesi brought the Allianz Stadium crowd to its feet with a thunderous hit in the 13th minute, causing a turnover. The Eagles kept the ball in their hands until Tapper took it to the corner. Kelter opted not to take the restart with less than a minute on the game clock, but Canada recovered the restart to send the ball into touch for a 21-17 final.

Both of North America's representatives at Sydney7s improved on their Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens performances and made up a combined five-sevenths of the tournament Dream Team. Kelter and Tapper received recognition while the former was also in the HSBC Performance Tracker list. The U.S. will return home for a brief rest, with HSBC USA Sevens less than a month away in Las Vegas.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Canada

1. Cheta Emba

2. Kristen Thomas

3. Kelly Griffin

4. Ryan Carlyle

5. Nicole Heavirland

6. Alev Kelter (C)

7. Naya Tapper

8. Kate Zackary

9. Joanne Fa'avesi

10. Kayla Canett

11. Hope Rogers

12. Sarah Buonopane

Canada | v. USA

1. Brittany Benn

2. Kayla Moleschi

3. Julia Greenshields

4. Breanne Nicholas

5. Ashley Steacy

6. Charity Williams

7. Jennifer Kish

8. Bianca Farella

9. Ghislaine Landry

10. Hannah Darling

11. Natasha Watcham-Roy

12. Megan Lukan

Women's Eagles Sevens | 17

Tries: Tapper (3)

Conversions: Heavirland

Canada | 21

Tries: Benn, Williams, Farella

Conversions: Landry (3)

Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Sydney7s

v. Russia - L 19-10

v. England - W 22-14

v. Spain - W 20-5

Cup QF v. Ireland - W 17-5

Cup SF v. New Zealand - W 19-12

Cup Final v. Canada - L 21-17