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Norton hat-trick powers England into Dubai Sevens quarter finals

02 December 2011

  • England Sevens defeat Zimbabwe, Kenya and France in Dubai
  • Flying wing Dan Norton reaches half-century try landmark
England Sevens wing Dan Norton in action at the Dubai Sevens

Photo: Getty Images

Dan Norton provided the finishing firepower as England completed a clean sweep on day one of the Dubai Sevens.

The former Gloucester and Bristol winger, sidelined after picking up an injury in last weekend’s Gold Coast Sevens, scored five tries as England dispatched Zimbabwe 43-0, Kenya 19-12 and France 29-12 to book a quarter final date with New Zealand tomorrow.

Norton touched down twice against Zimbabwe and his hat-trick against France took his career tally to 54 in the HSBC Sevens World Series, fifth on England’s all-time list.

"Dan’s demanding the ball on the wing, all our forwards are winning great possession and when he gets the ball in space he’s lethal," said head coach Ben Ryan.

"With New Zealand we know they’ll always play well against us and we’ll really have to be on our mettle in the quarter final. As a side we’re not quite clicking but we are slowly getting there and when we keep the ball we’re threatening everywhere."

Norton took his tally past the half-century mark 18 tournaments with a brace against Zimbabwe with skipper Greg Barden and replacements Nick Royle, Christian Lewis-Pratt – on his debut – Simon Hunt and Tom Powell all touching down.

England’s finishing was less sharp against Kenya but they were cruising at 19-5 up following two tries from Mathew Turner and one from James Rodwell before Willy Ambaka Ndayara’s late effort made for a tense final minute.

The crunch game against an improving France team was tied 12-12 at the break after Turner and Norton’s efforts were cancelled out by Manoel Dall Igna and Terry Bouhraoua.

But they dominated every area – particularly in contact and in keeping the ball alive – after the interval with Norton striking twice and substitute Nick Royle finishing the job.

England Women's wing Michaela Staniford on the run during the victory over New Zealand at Twickeham

Photo: Getty Images

England’s Women are competing in the IRB’s eight-team women’s tournament and their young side enjoyed an outstanding first day.

The senior side are 2-0 up in a test series against New Zealand and a young sevens team demonstrated the depth of talent in the English game by completing a clean sweep by beating China 26-15, South Africa 22-19 and the USA 31-0.

England beat China with a hat-trick of tries from Michaela Staniford (Wasps) and another score from Lydia Thompson (Worcester).

Thompson then snatched a late winner in a 22-19 victory over South Africa when England trailed despite having built up a 17-0 first half lead with Worcester’s Jo Watmore scoring two tries and another Staniford strike.

On paper the USA were favourites in the final game but they never got their hands on the ball as Staniford – who joined the side after appearing in the 15-a-side tests – touched down twice.

Saracens’ Leanne Riley, 18, added two more tries out wide, Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol) finished things off and Sarah McKenna (Wasps) added three conversions. They now face Australia in Saturday's semi final stage.