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Super Series Round 2: Women Eagles lose 0-33 to the Black Ferns of New Zealand

Canada proved themselves clinical against a French side that had won the 2018 Grand Slam in the Women's 6 Nations.  In the 2019 6 Nations Les France Feminines fell to 3rd behind Italy.  To start, in the morning ahead of the match the standout Blindside and No 8.  Romane Menager's withdrawal from the series was announced in the morning ahead of the afternoon fixture.  Menager's contribution to this side cannot be understated.  Although one of the younger players, Menager has been a huge part of this side going back to 2016 and is the physical leader of the French back row.

A bit unexpected from Canada all things considered given how little competition they and the US have had.  Sophi De Goede is an immense young player.  In her second senior cap for the Les Rouges she was a physical leader when she carried the ball and tackled as a defender.  One of the most skillful players on the park with her offloads and kicking game.  A player to watch for a very long time.  Both parents also achieved national honors as Canadian Rugby players.  Overall Canada brought the same intensity against France that they had against the Black Ferns, in a match that appeared sloppy they imposed their physical will on the French side.  Every time the French seemed to Respond, Canada extended their lead.

For the US.  Another loss in the tank and a lot more lessons learned.  Although it may be tough to see an overall light at the end of the tunnel.  There continues to be some great play by key players on the side. Alev Kelter looks like she's been playing in the Tyrell's Premier XVs rather than on the 7s Series.  Completely en forme  as an inside or outside center. Honestly, hard to articulate what it takes to be able to compete like that at such high levels as she does.

Photo Credit: Women In Rugby

When it comes to our scum though, throughout the England and New Zealand matches there was a clear imposition of will.  The Black Ferns did this clinically on every put-in pushing the US back multiple meters, just enough to make the Eagles suffer, but not enough to force concession of a scrum penalty.

It's also really tough to see how good of a game this was because it seemed really less skillful than what has been expected of both the Eagles and the Black Ferns.  Passes continue to be off-target when going out wide to finishers that have the gap.  If three passes made their targets for the Ferns that scoreline looks a whole lot different.

Early on the Ferns set the tone with a strike from Outside Center Carla Hohepa. A few minutes later Hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate went over the line. Scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge made her second conversion putting the Black Ferns up 0-14 on the Eagles after 15 minutes of play.  At minute 26 Right wing Natalia Moors scores a try in the corner, but Cocksedge fails to convert.  Kendra received another opportunity for a shot on goal when Alev Kelter conceded a penalty.  For much of the final ten minutes in the half the Eagles pushed the ball forward but would knock on, play great defense, drive forward again and create more turnovers.

Starting out in the second half it was again all the Black Ferns as No. 8 Pia Tapsell would grab the ball and muscle over the line following a scrum and multiple phases.  Cocksedge made sure to convert this time as the Black Ferns went up 0-26 on the Eagles. 

Following Tapsell's score the Eagles pushed forward and spent most of 20 minutes of play inside the Black Ferns half.  Defense playing tough and attack goin well except for getting within the 5 meter line where the Ferns own defense seemed to otherworldly making tackle after tackle.  The Eagles just could not convert when they had the ball deep in the Ferns half.  Eloise Blackwell would score the final try of the match at the 63rd minute.  Again the Women Eagles surged playing smart rugby, but then making hurrying mistakes when in the Ferns half as a hurried chip kick from Kris Thomas bounced in to touch and granted the Ferns possession.  The Eagles defense clamped down stopping any remaining threats from the Black Ferns but the attack would get suffocated soon as getting within 10 meters of the try line.

Eagles have a bye in round 3, there's a lot to look at when it comes to the combinations used.  They show what they have in flashes, and then they show what they don't have in other moments.  Much work to be done.  One of the major things missing in the attacking back three is a Fullback or winger that can put the ball in play with their kicking game.  On defense Katana Howard was playing off the wing or Fullback and using her boot, but removing your fly-half from position only works when the transition is perfect.  It can be done, but they can't be the only play maker in the back field.  Will be interesting to see the changes for round 4.  A young side getting a lot of high level exposure that they almost never get.