USA 29, Australia 12 … Next Up Scotland

Via WomenEagles & USA Rugby:

Karvoski, Nesberg Lead Eagles to Win in Aussie Rematch
9.13.06 – from USARugby.org

EDMONTON, Alberta – Paced by three spectacular second-half tries by Arkansas’ Ellie Karvoski, the USA Women’s National Rugby Team opened up their backline attack and defeated Australia 29-12, today, at the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

The victory, which is the third in a row at the tournament for the Eagles, means they play Sunday at Commonwealth Stadium for 5th place in the World.

The Eagles started off the very physical test with plenty of offensive pressure. Within minutes of the kickoff they took a lineout five meters from the Australia line. The throw didn’t hit the jumper, but was recovered by flanker Kristin Zdanczewicz (St. Louis Park, Minn.) and fed inside to No. 8 Tina Nesberg, of San Francisco, Calif., who burst through the Australian forwards to score.

Up 5-0 early on, the Eagles then spent much of the next 15 minutes on the back foot. Australia pressured off the restart and came close to scoring on several occasions, Ashley English (Oakland, Calif.) and Keenya Warner (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.) were among the backs who put in big tackles for the Eagles. Australia earned two kickable penalties during that time, but both were wide, allowing the Americans to stay on top.

Once they cleared their lines the Eagles began to show some more effective attacking ability, with Heather Hale (Atlanta, Ga.) setting free Pam Kosanke, of Chicago, Ill., Karvoski, and Laura Cabrera (Oakland, Calif.) on several attacks.

Good coverage on a probing kick from Hale forced Australian No. 8 Alex Hargreaves to kill the ball, and she was sin-binned for the infringement. This set up a huge American opportunity. They drove off a lineout but were stymied repeatedly by the Australian defense.

After five minutes on the Aussie line the USA earned another penalty. Captain Jen Crouse called for a scrum and Nesberg picked up from the back, stiff-armed one tackle, and scored. Kosanke’s well-struck kick hit the post.

“If our scrumhalf [Claudia Braymer] had tapped the ball quickly I wouldn’t have been upset, but I thought our scrum was stronger this game and we could suck in their forwards and run a play,” said Crouse.

Up 10-0 at halftime the Eagles caught a break on the second-half kickoff as the Australian kick didn’t go ten meters. From that scrum the Eagles attacked with the backs to the right, and only desperate Australian tackling kept Cabrera from scoring.

Still with continued pressure and Zdanczewicz, California’s Jamie Burke, and New York’s Phaidra Knight stealing the ball in the rucks, the Eagles kept up the attack. Kosanke hit the post once again with a penalty kick, but the Australians could breathe more easily only for so long.

A simple USA backline move eight minutes into the second half gave Karvoski the ball with some room and she easily rounded the corner for her first World Cup try.

“The tournament has been one of putting the pieces together, so not scoring hasn’t really been a frustration for me personally, but more of a team frustration,” Karvoski said. “I am just trying to do the job a good wing is supposed to do.”

In the 58th minute, the Eagle backline struck again, this time with sub center Hedwig Aerts (Brooklyn, N.Y.) fielded a pass a little behind her, turned and fed Kosanke, who popped the ball for Karvoski entering the right side of the backline from her left wing position. Karvoski zipped through the Australian defense with startling speed to score near the posts, and Kosanke’s conversion made it 22-0.

Three minutes later it was Karvoski again showcasing her speed for her third try. Kosanke’s kick made it 29-0. The Eagles appeared to be ready to score one more, as Karvoski, Kosanke, Knight and Cabrera combined on the most intriguing movement of the day, but Australia didn’t give up and made the tackles they needed to make.

With the USA bench emptied and time winding down, Australia kept attacking. The Aussies scored twice with wing Tricia Brown touching down in the 67th minute and inspirational captain Selena Worsely scoring at the 73rd minute. But a stern talking-to from Crouse saw the Americans hold their defensive line thereafter and win 29-12.

“I told the players we had 15 minutes to go, so that’s what we’ve got; let’s show what we can do,” said Worsley.

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for the Australians,” added USA head coach Kathy Flores. “We stepped back a little, which is I guess natural when you’re up 29-0. It was a mental thing more than anything else. But the Australians made us pay.”

Despite the iffy ending, the Eagles were generally pleased to have showed their scoring punch and also shown marked improvements in their scrums, lineouts, and ball retention.

“We had the pieces of the puzzle but we hadn’t brought them all together at the right time,” said Crouse. “Things all came together for large portions of the game today.”

Added double try-scorer Nesburg, “I felt everyone else was doing all the hard work. Jamie poached the ball, the scrums were solid. I was just behind it all taking advantage of everyone else’s hard work.”

The USA will now play Scotland, whom the Eagles have beaten this year, to finish 5th. “We’re not really looking at it as finishing 5th,” said Flores. “We’re looking at it as we want to finish this tournament 4-1, and we’ll have only lost to England, and that’s not too shabby.”

USA 29
Tries: Karvoski 3, Nesberg 2
Conv: Kosanke 2

USA Lineup (Hedwig Aerts replaced Patty Jervey on the bench due to illness) 1. Annie Collier (Meredith Ottens @ 57); 2. Mari Wallace (Danielle Miller @ 67); 3. Jamie Burke; 4. Erin Carter (Kate Pope @ 62); 5. Jen Crouse (c); 6. Phaidra Knight; 7. Kristin Zdanczewicz; 8. Tina Nesberg (Kate Cox @ 64); 9. Claudia Braymer (Lee Knight @ 65); 10. Heather Hale; 11. Ellie Karvoski; 12. Pam Kosanke; 13. Keenya Warner (Hedwigh Aerts @ 56); 14. Laura Cabrera (Kristin Baja @ 67); 15. Ashley English.

Australia 12
Tries: Brown, Worsley
Conv: McGann

Australia
1. Lindsay Morgan, 2. Louise Burrows, 3. Vanessa Bradley, 4. Alicia Frost, 5. Chris Ross, 6. Kim Wilson, 7. Selena Worsley (c), 8. Alexandra Hargreaves, 9. Cheryl Soon, 10. Tobie McGann, 11. Tricia Brown, 12. Rebecca Anderson, 13. Lisa Fiaola, 14. Ruan Sims, 15. Kelli Donnelly Reserves 16. Annette Finch, 17. Rebecca Trethowan, 18. Kate Porter, 19. Tasiletta Bethell, 20. Alana Thomas, 21. Lito Fata, 22. Iliseva Batibasaga

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