PARIS, FRANCE – The fifth and final leg of the 2017/2018 Women’s Sevens World Series featured a return to glory and a more than its fair share of upsets. On the final stop of this year’s series the @USAWomens7s finished on a positive note as they claimed fifth place. For the rest of the world, New Zealand won the tournament but were unable to overtake Australia for the series title.
The Eagles had a very good tournament and although they didn’t win the managed to go 2-1 on both days. Their two day record was what most USA fans hoped to see. Their performance in pool play was great to see as the USA took the initiative in all their matches winning two of them. In their opening pool match win over Japan, the USA came out on fire and ran out to a 17-0 lead at the half. Just as it seemed a rout was on, Japan traded tries to start the second half. The Japanese were relentless toward the final whistle and add two more tries but came up short, USA win 24-19. The next match was against the always cagey, Spain. Once again the USA attack didn’t wilt but made a statement. Courtesy of great possession play and ball movement the US scored twice in the first half and were up 14-7. The sceond half was a defensive showdown as both only allowed a converted try to the other. In the end the USA had won the match 21-14 and secured passage into Cup Quarter-finals. The final match of the day for the Eagles was against France, a side they are capable of beating but have struggled to do so this season. The USA was on the scoreboard first thanks to a key turnover and great finishing. However, the France began to choke the life out othe USA attacks and calmly waited for their opportunities which they cashed in on twice to win the game 14-5.
The Cup playoffs began with a lot of optimism as the Eagles took on Canada. The Canadians are ranked further ahead but because of the rivalry the USA could still pull it off. The match was an instant classic as both sides came out their corners looking to have a blow for blow knockout fight. Canada came out first with 12 unanswered points but the USA would dominate the next minutes of play and look pretty impressive with a 14-12 score going into halftime. After the half, Canada scored a quick converted try which the USA responded to with a unconverted try of their own. As the game stayed tied until, Canada produced a brilliant try to the lead and converted. The USA in the dying seconds built up their attack then scored after the hooter. This meant the Americans needed the conversion for the tie, but alas the kick went just wide so Canada were the winners 26-24. The USA were angry to have come so close and fall short. They weren’t dejected but motivated to finish the tournament as high as they could, which was fifth place. The first team up to take them on was Spain and boy did they feel the majority of the brunt of the USA anger. The USA came out on fire and never really cooled off as they dominated from first whistle to final whistle. Spain had no answer for the USA and lost 33-5. The final game of the weekend for the Eagles saw them face Fiji with a chance to fifth. The Eagles would not find it easy at first as they were able to make them work but then finally struck first. However, the Fijians responded with a converted try of their own as the two sides went into the half tied. Coming out of the second half the USA was on fire and they displayed it as they took control of the game and cruised to a 28-7.
Black Ferns win leg, Australia win Series:
New Zealand won their third consecutive leg of the Women’s sevens series. It was another great performance as the Black Ferns never lost the whole weekend. Unfortunately by facing Australia in the final, Australia had wrapped up the series just but making the final, more on that later. Never discouraged, the Black Ferns decided to show their ability in a dominating display against the Aussies. The win meant that the Ferns had won more legs than the Aussies but unfortunately that will have to console the Black Ferns. The Aussies were undefeated all the way through and looked to struggle in some matches but still found a way to win.
Canada had a disappointing season but capped it off with a solid effort to defeat France and win the bronze. France had a great season and the lost to Canada in Paris will not sour their season one bit as they took huge steps as a program. Ireland was able to salvage the weekend by winning the Challenge Trophy. Considering the program and how new it is, that is a solid achievement, though they will feel like they deserved to make the Cup playoffs and maybe they are right.
Final standings were:
Cup: New Zealand
In regards to the 2017/2018 Series, Australia showed the importance of consistency. They medaled at every one of the 5 stops on the series. Two golds, 2 Silvers and a bronze are an impressive haul. As a result while New Zealand won the gold in 3 legs, the one leg where they finished fifth was the one that cost them the series title by two points. France was an also ran second tier team for the past few season but they had a great campaign this series. Finishing no worse than sixth, along with collecting silver medal, they were able to knock Canada out of their usual third spot. Canada was done by an extremely poor Japan leg while the USA did poor in that leg and the previous one in Sydney to land them just behind Canada on the Series standings. Now all the countries have to regroup and get ready for the 7s RWC.
Final Series standings were:
First: New Zealand
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