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England upset hosts in opening match of Hong Kong Sevens

31 March 2006

England 52

Hong Kong 0

England Sevens made good use of the opportunity to settle any early tournament nerves with a decisive 52-0 win over hosts Hong Kong.  Rotherham winger David Strettle, who was highest try scorer in England's recent LA Sevens win, scored four tries in England's opening pool game on day one of the Hong Kong Sevens.

It took a few minutes for England to dust off the cob webs before scoring their first try but they still made some good breaks during the first couple of minutes of the match.  IRB Leading Points Scorer Ben Gollings was first on the score sheet followed by Strettle's first of the match. The 22 year old from Warrington narrowly missed out on final selection for this month's Commonwealth Games and soon impressed the 20,000 crowd with some speedy footwork.

Mathew Tait, who was leading try scorer at the Commonwealth Games, crossed the line in the first half and with Strettle's second coming just before half time, England led comfortably at the break 28-0.

Despite the home support for Hong Kong, England continued their dominance and replacement Dan Luger scored early in the second half - his first of the season for England Sevens. Strettle scored his hat trick with three minutes to go, followed by a great run by Ben Russell of Saracens who also crossed the line. The final try of the match deservedly went to Strettle and with six successful conversions by Gollings England recorded a satisfying 52-0 win over the hosts.

Speaking after the match to RFU.com Mike Friday said, "It is always good to get the first match out of the way, and get everyone back into match mode after the training camp.  There were several things we need to improve on but that's to be expected in the first match and we will work on those over night before day two."

David Strettle was pleased with his performance, "The first game is always hard on the body and you forget just how tough sevens is but I was pleased to score four tries on my Hong Kong debut. It doesn't matter if you score no tries or five tries, whenever you pull on the England shirt it is a very special moment.  One of our major aims whenever we play is to keep our defence strong so it was satisfying to keep a clean score sheet.  Defence often wins tournaments and we need to go back and look at the tape and get ready for the Americans and Canadians tomorrow."

Scorers:

England - Tries: Gollings, Strettle (4), Tait, Luger, Russell

Conversions - Gollings (6)

England - Ben Gollings, Ben Russell (Saracens), Ben Foden (Sale Sharks), Mathew Tait (Newcastle Falcons), David Strettle (Rotherham), Dan Luger, David Seymour (Saracens)

Replacements: Henry Paul (Gloucester), Nils Mordt (London Irish), Andy Vilk (Northampton Saints)

Replacements not used: Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers), Simon Amor, Captain (Gloucester)

England face USA tomorrow (1st April) at 13.04 (6.04am GMT) and Canada at 17.56 (10.56am GMT).

For player interviews please contact Sally Price, England Sevens Media Manager on 07801 802 711.

Ends.