Women's Sevens
21 7
24 12
Women's Sevens  @ Sam Boyd Stadium
USA Sevens
  Amy Perrett
Match 1

Ireland breaks hometown hearts late in Las Vegas

 Michael Lee / KLC fotos

LAS VEGAS - The USA Women's Eagles Sevens did not start the third leg of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, HSBC USA Sevens, the way they had planned in a 24-21 defeat to Ireland Friday.

Captain Alev Kelter dotted down twice for the Richie Walker's side at Sam Boyd Stadium in the first international match of the weekend as the teams traded the lead four times in 14 minutes. The loss drops the U.S. to the bottom of Pool B ahead of two additional pool matches scheduled for Friday. Spain lost its first match to Fiji, 21-19, and will line up against the Eagles at 2:02 p.m. ET. The live broadcast of the Women's Sevens Series event is available to viewers in the United States on The Rugby Channel.

Not too late for USA7s tickets 

"We need to keep our discipline," Walker said after the match. "We had some penalties we shouldn't have, like offside. But we were in this position in Australia (0-1). We know we have to win the next two and we're looking forward to doing that."

Ready to get going in their home tournament, the Eagles took no time at all finding their way onto the scoreboard. A restart win from a Kelter kick was followed by the captain's sidestep of a defender meters in front of the posts for the opening score, 7-0. Two separate penalties against the Eagles on the next possession allowed Ireland to set up a five-meter lineout, however, from which Stacey Flood shot through a gap in the defensive line to level the score, 7-7.

The Eagles looked to slow play down from successive Ireland knocks as the half came to a close. Naya Tapper, Player of the Final just a month ago at HSBC Sydney7s, took on four defenders with a lateral run before a U.S. knock cut the attack short. Ireland needed just a pop pass with Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe running a switch line at midfield to take its first lead at 12-7 heading into the break.

Ireland lost its own second-half-opening restart forward, and the Eagles swung the ball from the set piece to Tapper for a quick 60-meter try. Nicole Heavirland nailed the conversion to regain the lead at 14-12, and Kelter benefitted from another Ireland scrum in advantageous territory and a well-placed Joanne Fa'avesi pass to beat the defenders to the try zone in the 10th minute. The captain's second try of the game and angled conversion extended the lead to 21-12 with just minutes to play.

"Ireland shut down Tapper quickly in the first half so we need to get her confidence and ball a little bit earlier," Walker said. "We know she can do one-on-one, one-on-two, and one-on-three sometimes. She scored with the first opportunity and pulled defenders in with the second so we could score again."

The Eagles found themselves outnumbered wide when Ireland won possession from the 12th-minute restart, conceding a second try to Murphy Crowe to bring the score to 21-19. The match official stopped play in the 13th minute after another Ireland restart win put Flood away to the corner to confer with the assistant whether the first-half try-scorer was able to dot down through a tackle. The try was awarded, and Ireland lucked out with its final restart to claim possession and end the match with a kick to touch.

The Eagles beat Spain in Sydney a month ago and will hope to use that momentum to earn their first win at USA Sevens at 2:02 p.m. ET. The match - and entire tournament - will be broadcast live to viewers in the United States on The Rugby Channel.

Women's Eagles Sevens | v. Ireland

1. Samantha Pankey

2. Kelly Griffin

3. Kate Zackary

4. Nicole Heavirland

5. Ryan Carlyle

6. Alev Kelter (C)

7. Naya Tapper

8. Kelsi Stockert

9. Joanne Fa'avesi

10. Bulou Mataitoga

11. Kristen Thomas

12. Nicole Snyder

Ireland | v. USA

1. Katie Fitzhenry

2. Hannah Tyrrell

3. Stacey Flood

4. Megan Williams

5. Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe

6. Ashleigh Baxter

7. Sene Naoupu

8. Claire Keohane

9. Lucy Mulhall

10. Audrey O'Flynn

11. Alison Miller

12. Susan Vaughan

Women's Eagles Sevens | 21

Tries: Kelter (2), Tapper

Conversions: Kelter (2), Heavirland

Ireland | 24

Tries: Murphy Crowe (2), Flood (2)


Women's Eagles Sevens | HSBC USA Sevens

v. Ireland - L 24-21

v. Spain - Friday, March 3 @ 2:02 p.m. ET

v. Fiji - Friday, March 3 @ 4:47 p.m. ET