Friday 8th December 2006
England have to settle with a draw against Wales in South African opener
Wales pulled everything out their bag against second seeds England in the Emirates Airline South Africa Sevens and England had to make do with a draw
in their opening game.Despite their 7-0 lead at half time, two quick tries by Wales in the second half meant that the match ended 14 all.
England must now win both remaining pool games against Portugal and Argentina, and possibly rely on points difference, to ensure they top their pool.
England Sevens Coach Mike Friday predicted the strength of the Wales squad and named his four experienced players in his starting seven. England began well and certainly dominated the match in the first half.
Gloucesters Rob Thirlby scored first and the kick was successfully converted by Ben Gollings.
Almost all the ball in the first half was played within Englands attacking zone but Wales defended well to keep England��s lead to just one score by the break.
London Wasps winger David Doherty, just 19, showed his potential with a run almost the length of the pitch to score England��s second and last try of the match. The match was scrappy from start to finish with the pitch heavy underfoot, but Wales played well to turn the potential defeat into a draw.
James Harris was first to score for Wales and then a missed tackle on Tal Selley meant he scored shortly after. In the dying seconds of the match a great break by Gollings almost secured a win for England but he was tackled two metres from the line and England had to settle with the draw.
England face Portugal next at 15.42 local (13.42 GMT).
Speaking after the match Friday said,We knew it was always going to be physical against Wales. We started well and had control of the game but then our lack of experience showed. Fair play to Wales to get a draw.
Nothing has changed for England we still need to win the next two matches. It is clear that this pool in particular is very tough with all four teams capable of upsetting each other. To win this group could very well come down to points difference.
Tries: Thirlby, Doherty
Conversions: Gollings (2)
Tries: Harris, Selley
Conversions: Thomas (2)
Referee: Taizo Hirabayashi (JAP)
Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Michael Hills (Sale Sharks), Andy Vilk (Sale Sharks), Simon Amor (London Wasps, Captain), Ben Gollings, Rob Thirlby (Gloucester), David Doherty (London Wasps)
Replacements: Marcel Garvey (Worcester), Dominic Shabbo (London Irish), James Haskell (London Wasps) Not used: Danny Gray (Bristol), Charlie Amesbury (NEC Harlequins)