COMMENTARY: USA WOMEN vs FRANCE – 2016 TEST 2

The United States Women continued their Fall Tour with Test number 2 against hosts France in beautiful Montpellier. The tour – made possible by the fantastic Atavus organization – provides a wonderful opportunity to prepare against top level competition ahead of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland (August 8-26, 2017).

France stretched their winning record to 7 wins (with 1 draw and 2 losses) after defeating the USA 36-10 earlier this week on November 22nd. The French scored 6 glorious tries in that fixture – showcasing their skills which won them the 2016 Six Nations tournament. Read about that clash – together with 5 USA players that caught #TheRugbyCommentators eye.

USA Head Coach Peter Baggetta made 2 changes to the starting XV, while Jean-Michelle Gonzalez rotated his players with 9 different names coming into the squad for the second Test. The broadcast was another remote one from Los Angeles – with Katie Wurst joining me in the booth. Katie and I have worked on several tournaments together, most recently the thrilling Women’s Premier League (WPL) Championships from Life University in Atlanta. Watch all 8 matches from that impressive tournament on The Rugby Channel.

Altrad Stadium witnessed another very physical tussle between these teams – with the USA showing a more aggressive and organized defense in the first 35 minutes. France were trailing 6-5 after two Kimber Rozier penalties for the USA – then the hosts went ahead just before the half with some opportunistic brilliance.

The USA Eagles used their full bench in the second forty with some standout play from reserves Tiffany Faaee and Joanne ‘Nana’ Fa’avesi. Faaee was selected on The Rugby Commentators WPL Dream Team – and had represented Samoa in rugby league as well as being chosen for the New Zealand rugby league squad in 2014. Fa’avesi (USA 7s Team at Rio 2016) earned her first international cap and will be one to watch for the future. She is fortunate to have veteran scrumhalf and leader Jenny Lui in the squad to guide her over the next season or two.

France capitalized on some poor exit strategy kicking from the United States – and scorched through to take their lead out to 17-6 early in the second half. Following that, USA speedster Naya Tapper was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes after an off the ball incident. This only helped France’s attacking momentum – with center sensation Elodie Poublan making it 24-6. Fullback Laura Delas added her second try late in the game – seeing the number 4 ranked France complete their victory by 31-6.

The USA learnt some value lessons – and despite the scoreboard – improved over the 2 Tests. Standout players during the November 25th clash for me were Captain Hope Rogers (at only 23 years of age), Jordan Gray (playing at lock, after winning the 2016 WPL MVP at the center position), Christiane Pheil, Alev Kelter and impact player Nana Va’avesi.

Women’s Eagles | v. France
1. Sarah Chobot (Faaee @ 45′)
2. Katy Augustyn (Pankey @ 47′)
3. Hope Rogers (C)
4. Abby Gustaitis
5. Jordan Gray
6. Christiane Pheil (Cairns @ 75′)
7. Kate Zackary (Kitlinski @ 64′)
8. Kate Daley (Benson @ 60′)
9. Jennifer Lui (Fa’avesi @ 51′)
10. Kimber Rozier
11. Naya Tapper
12. Sylvia Braaten (Foster @ 70′)
13. Alev Kelter
14. Tess Feury
15. Jessica Wooden (Stockert @ 64′)

Women’s Eagles | Reserves
16. Samantha Pankey
17. Catherine Benson
18. Tiffany Faaee
19. Joanna Kitlinski
20. Elizabeth Cairns
21. Joanne Fa’avesi
22. Kelsi Stockert
23. Megan Foster

France | v. USA
1. Annaëlle Deshayes
2. Gaëlle Mignot (C)
3. Patricia Carricaburu
4. Céline Ferer
5. Audrey Forlani
6. Pauline Rayssac
7. Romane Menager
8. Safi N’Diaye
9. Yanna Rivoalen
10. Camille Imart
11. Marine Menager
12. Elodie Poublan
13. Caroline Ladagnous
14. Elodie Guiglion
15. Laura Delas

France | Reserves
16. Manon Bigot
17. Lise Arricastre
18. Lenaig Corson
19. Gaëlle Hermet
20. Camille Cabaoou
21. Christelle Le Duff
22. Lauriane Lissar
23. Julie Duval

Women’s Eagles | 6
Penalties: Rozier (2)
Discipline: Tapper (Yellow)

France | 31
Tries: Rayssac, Delas (2), Forlani, Poublan
Conversions: Delas (2), Le Duff

Women’s Eagles | November Tour
v. France – L 36-10
v. France – L 31-6

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