Saturday 10th December 2005
England Sevens 22 Fiji 28
England may have had the upper hand last week in Dubai but today, despite a brave battle in which England never gave up, Fiji came out on top in the semi finals of the Emirates Airline South Africa Sevens in George.
England Sevens Coach Mike Friday was proud of his young squad who gave 110% in their quest to overturn World Cup winners Fiji for the second time in two weeks. He said, "That was a gutsy and mature performance from a group of young players. We made a couple of mistakes at vital times which you just can't do at this level of competition. I am still extremely proud of the whole squad and am confident they will have learned alot from this result."
"It was always going to be a tough occasion given last week's final in Dubai and Fiji have been impressive all tournament, especially in their defeat of New Zealand in the quarter finals."
England began well with a try from Ben Gollings but the Fijians came back strong with two tries, both successfully converted, before the break.
Early in the second half 19 year old Mathew Tait (Newcastle Falcons) scored a thrilling try running the length of the pitch to bring England to within a score of Fiji. Despite some strong defensive work from England the Fijians scored again taking the score to 21-10.
England went down to six men following the sin binning of captain Simon Amor (Gloucester) for throwing the ball away. During this time, Andy Vilk (Northampton Saints), who has been impressive all tournament, scored a much needed try. But despite a last minute try for Luke Narraway (Gloucester), the Fijians scored another try during the half to give the final result of 28-22 and to knock England out of the competition.
Friday continued, "By losing the match, the players will have learned just how little the gap is between winning and losing in international rugby. We could have won that match but just a few tiny mistakes denied us victory. Everyone in the squad is extremely disappointed but they need to take the positives from the situation whilst remembering exactly how they are feeling now they have lost."
Tries - Gollings, Tait, Vilk, Narraway
Conversions - Amor
Squad: Luke Narraway (Gloucester), Andy Vilk (Northampton Saints), Nils Mordt (London Irish), Henry Paul (Gloucester), Ben Gollings (Sunnybank, Australia), Mathew Tait (Newcastle Falcons), Simon Amor captain (Gloucester)
Replacements: James Bailey (Gloucester), Ben Foden (Sale Sharks), Dan Luger (unattached) ,
Not used: Jonny Hylton (Worcester Warriors), Will Mathews (GLoucester)
Referee: du Preez (South Africa)
The next IRB Sevens is Wellington and Los Angeles in February.