By Blythe Lawrence | Feb. 03, 2019, 10 a.m. (ET)

The U.S. women's rugby sevens team pose with their bronze medals at the Sydney Sevens Series on Feb. 3, 2019 in Sydney, Australia.

 

It took Kris Thomas all of 30 seconds to score as the bronze-medal match between the U.S. women’s rugby team and Ireland got going at the HSBC Sydney Sevens Sunday. Turns out that Thomas was just getting started.

The 25-year-old center’s opening-minute drive made the score 7-0 in favor of the charging American team and set the tone for the rest of the match as the Team USA romped to a 26-10 victory over Ireland to earn the bronze.

A path to daylight through the Irish line four minutes later led to newcomer Kristi Kirshe’s fourth try of the tournament and bumped the Americans’ lead to 14-0. A second successful run by Thomas made it 19-0 before the Irish were awoken in the second half by Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe, who put her team on the board to make it 19-5. Eve Higgins also scored for Ireland, but Kirshe had the final word to assure the U.S. victory 26-10.

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In her debut tournament with the Women’s Eagles Sevens, Kirshe, a former soccer player for Williams College, scored five tries over three days of play in Australia. The U.S. began its quest by taking down China 26-10 but lost to Spain 14-21 before beating host Australia 19-12 in pool play. In the quarterfinals, the Americans scraped out a 7-5 win over Russia before falling 29-5 to New Zealand in the semis.

New Zealand defeated Australia 34-10 for the Sydney Sevens title, reversing the ranking from 2018, when Australia defeated its Oceanic rival. The bronze medal moves the U.S. — which finished second in Glendale, Arizona, and fourth in Dubai — to second place in the standings, behind three-time winner New Zealand. The World Rugby Sevens Series resumes in Japan in April.

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.