- England master conditions to complete clean sweep in opening games
- Late replacement Brightwell adds power to Mitchell and Norton's pace
England reeled off impressive victories over Fiji, France and Japan to complete an unbeaten first day at the Tokyo Sevens.
Ben Ryan’s men made light of treacherous conditions, with high winds and heavy rain, to finish with a 14-7 win against Hong Kong champions Fiji after seeing off France 19-7 and hosts Japan 15-5.
The clean sweep sets up a quarter final against South Africa and a chance of instant retribution against the side that beat England 28-0 in last weekend’s third place play-off.
Photo: Getty Images
Head coach Ryan said: “We got stuck in with three very typical English performances and our tackle completion rate was unbelievable – we maybe missed one in 100.
“It is Day One and we’re not getting carried away but we couldn’t have asked for the first day to go any better and momentum is important.
“We’ve now got a very tough quarter final against a side who frankly embarrassed us [in Hong Kong]. We’re a better side than that and we’d like to show them what we can do.”
Mat Turner, Tom Powell and Rob Vickerman scored the tries to see off the hosts before Turner, Tom Mitchell and Chris Brightwell touched down against France.
Mitchell’s acceleration through the middle stunned Fiji in the final game of the day as he put England in front mid-way through the first half.
Dan Norton, the HSBC Sevens World Series’s leading try scorer, then added a second by bursting off the back of a midfield ruck to beat three tacklers and go under the posts early in the second.
Metuisela Talebula responded to get Fiji back in the game but England clung on for the closing couple of minutes to complete their first unbeaten first day since their Dubai title victory in December.
“It’s been a hard day today because of the weather – you wouldn’t have thought it was spring in Tokyo, it’s more like winter in Wales,” said Norton, who took his tally to 30 for the season.
“But we played the conditions really well, made our tackles and did the basics right. That tackling was really the key.”
Brightwell hadn’t featured in the Series since the opening leg in the Gold Coast last November until he was summoned as a replacement for the injured Chris Cracknell earlier this week.
But the former Sale Sharks flanker reeled off a series of powerful performances –handing off France’s Jonathan Laugel on the way to the line, then denting the Fiji defence with two big carries before the Mitchell and Norton tries.
Ryan said: “Chris has been brilliant today. It started with getting his hands on the ball early, taking people on, and he gave us a bit of go-forward.
“He’s taken his chance so well and I’m really pleased for him. He’s been on the touchline so long.”