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England Sevens fall short

29 November 2008

November 29, 2008


England 12 - 19 South Africa

England may leave the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens empty handed tonight but they can hold their heads high.

Over the two day tournament England have played with flair, passion and commitment, finishing top of their pool and adding convincing quarter and semi final performances, but they were shot down at the last hurdle.

Tries from Micky Young and Tom Biggs kept England's spirits alive but a last minute try from South Africa's Ryno Benjamin and a number of injuries stopped England in their tracks.

Captain Ollie Phillips and winger Uche Oduoza both went off with injuries in the first half leaving England at a disadvantage.

The first half was dominated by the Boks. England were penalised at the scrum which led to South Africa's first try and conversion.

A knock on by  England's Isoa Damudamu gave South Africa possession which led to their second try, at the same time, Phillips (left arm) and Oduoza (knee) were sent off injured so Micky Young and Tom Biggs were brought on as cover.

At the break the scores were 0-12.

England came back fighting in the second half, Tom Biggs scoring by weaving through the South African defence, but Young was unable to convert.

South Africa was down to six men in the fifth minute of the half , when Paul Delport was sent to the bin for persistent infringement.  England made the most of their opportunities, Young going over for the score and converting his own try.

It looked as though England were in for another try and looked the likely party when Biggs when soaring down the wing, but he was tackled with no England cover, South Africa made off down the field to seal the deal. The final score 12-19.

Coach Ben Ryan said, "We want to be the best sevens side in the world and that means being World Series champions.

"Our defence over the last two days has been pretty rock solid and that gave us the edge. We deserved our semi final place and that defence put us in the final.

"The final was a little bit less expansive rugby, it was a bit more confrontational and we knew to expect that. But to come back from 12-0 down with our fly half playmaker injured our other flyhalf not on the field and then to lose our winger in the first half as well, the cards were really marked against us.

"We fought back, scored two cracking tries and we had just a little further to go. We had a lineout where if we'd made that count it would have been our trophy.

"Our teams learning but I've got to say I'm very proud of them and feel we have turned a corner."

England: Isoa Damudamu (Army), Rob Vickerman (Leeds Carnegie), Uche Oduoza (Suntory, Japan), Ollie Phillips (Captain, Newcastle Falcons), Josua Drauniniu (Exeter Chiefs/Royal Navy), Kevin Barrett (Exeter Chiefs), Chris Cracknell (Exeter Chiefs).

Replacements: Tom Biggs (Leeds Carnegie), Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons).

England scorers:
Tries: Biggs, Young
Conversions: Young (1)

Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, November 28 & 29

England results:
Pool D

Friday November 28

England 31-7 Portugal
England 24-10 USA
Fiji 5 v 28 England

Saturday November 29

England 15 -5 Argentina
New Zealand 19-21 England
England 12 -19 South Africa

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