By Blythe Lawrence | Dec. 07, 2019, 10:19 a.m. (ET)

Naya Tapper competes at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series on Dec. 6, 2019 in Dubai.

 

Try after try carried the U.S. women’s rugby team to a bronze-medal victory as the No. 1-ranked squad dominated Australia, 24-7, in the final round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stop Saturday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

The Eagles made it 5-0 early on the strength of 2016 Olympian Alev Kelter fending off a high tackle for a try around the outside in the third minute. With the Australian team providing excellent coverage, the United States was nonetheless able to break through, with Kelter and Kris Thomas setting up Cheta Emba for a try that brought the score to 12-0 just two minutes later. 

A turnover forced by Kelter gave Kristi Kirshe an opportunity to convert, which she did to make it 17-0 in the ninth minute, while another try by Jordan Gray-Matyas in the 11th gave the U.S. a commanding 24-0 lead. 

Australia finally scored late in the match on an effort by Faith Nathan, but the Team USA players were able to contain the damage for a 24-7 final result.

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Both the U.S. women’s and mens’ squads have already qualified for next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, taking some of the pressure off teams in the Sevens Series. The Eagles opened up their campaign in pool play Thursday, defeating Brazil 29-7 and following up with a 33-14 win over Russia and a 34-10 defeat of Canada. 

They faced Russia again in the quarterfinals, coming up with a 28-7 win before facing their first defeat at the hands of a tough New Zealand team in the semis, falling 24-7 and sending them to the bronze-medal match against Australia.

The Eagles are flying high coming off a season-opening gold medal in Glendale, Colorado.

Also in Dubai, the men’s squad finished second in its group in pool play but fell in the quarterfinals to New Zealand, 26-5.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.