- Turner finishes one ahead of teammate Norton at top of series try table
- 'Proud' Ryan to keep faith with promising group for future campaign
England finished the HSBC Sevens World Series in third place overall after being beaten 14-12 in the Marriott London Sevens Plate final by Australia.
Mat Turner’s fifth try of the weekend meant he finished as the series leader with 38 in the campaign – one ahead of teammate Dan Norton – and debutant Jeff Williams struck in the second half but Dan Bibby missed with a late penalty shot at goal Australia hung on thanks to tries from captain Ed Jenkins and Ed Stubbs.
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New Zealand wrapped up a 10th series title for coach Gordon Tietjens by reaching the semi finals, where they were beaten by Fiji, who lifted the Marriott London Sevens title with a 38-15 win over Samoa and finished second in the overall rankings.
They were all cheered home by a day two crowd of 42,977, taking the total attendance to a record series high of 103,027 for the weekend.
Earlier Fiji had edged out England of the cup 21-14 the quarter final stage with a last-play try. England then staged their own great escape act when World Player of the Year nominee Turner snatched a 19-17 win over South Africa in the Plate semi final.
Overall they didn’t hit the heights they reached in winning Dubai in December or in reaching the Glasgow final last weekend but head coach Ben Ryan was upbeat about their progress.
“We gave Fiji their sternest test and were one ruck under their posts from reaching the semi final, so things could have been a little bit different, but that’s the way sevens goes,” said Ryan.
“We’re proud of our efforts over the last 12 months and I’m really enthusiastic about the potential in the side. We’ll stay together as a group and I’m sure we’ll improve.”
Wales beat Scotland 27-5 to win the third tier Bowl competition with tries from Richard Smith, Alex Walker, Dan Fish and Rhys Patchel. Andrew Turnbull replied.
After their shock 22-7 defeat against Spain on the opening day, Wales beat the USA 28-19 and Fish’s late try grabbed a 28-26 win over Portugal. Scotland cruised past Kenya 21-5 and Zimbabwe 31-19.
Against South Africa, Tom Powell and Sam Edgerley got the scoreboard moving only to England to find themselves trailing 17-12 in the final moments and pinned on their own line.
But Edgerley twisted his way out of trouble and Turner shrugged off a tackle before accelerating 70 metres to the line with Mitchell’s conversion completing the escape act.
Against Fiji, England had produced arguably their most incisive attacking work of the weekend.
They trailed to Setefano Cakau’s early try but a composed build-up with good work from Edgerley and Chris Cracknell put Turner away with Mitchell converting.
They hit the front in the second half with Norton involved on the left before Turner broke up the middle for a 14-7 lead.
Fiji levelled two minutes from time through Isake Katonibau but England were dominating the closing moments with Turner and Rob Vickerman bursting into the Fiji 22 before the Islanders got out of jail.