- England edged out in Pool C battle with South Africa, Samoa and Portugal
- Three tries in two games for Ruth Laybourn as women's side start campaign
England were edged out of the cup quarter finals again on another day of shocks at the second leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
They beat Samoa 19-17 but went down 19-12 against South Africa and then succumbed 22-21 to giantkillers Portugal in their final Pool C match at the Dubai Sevens.
Portugal duly topped the pool after beating South Africa 12-10 while Wales, Canada and Kenya also advanced to the last eight.
Photo: Martin Seras Lima
England looked like they’d booked their place in the last eight when record try-scorer Dan Norton put them 21-19 up with a minute to go in monsoon conditions.
But Portugal broke out and took the lead with a penalty after Norton was yellow-carded for impeding an opponent. England got the ball back but couldn’t get over the line. Their other tries came from James Rodwell and John Brake.
It completed a difficult day for the side after centre Tom Mitchell broke a leg in the Samoa match and captain Rob Vickerman was suspended for three games after being cited for a dangerous tackle.
“We can’t blame anyone else,” said Ryan. “It’s a collective 14 minutes and in the first half Portugal got too many points that we gave them and we should have been more clinical in the right places.
“We were in the Bowl in the last tournament, we’re in the Bowl again here; we’ve got our captain on a three-game ban and one of our best players [Tom Mitchell] in hospital with a broken leg also from the second game.
“Now we’ve got to show a bit of resilience and spirit. None of us wants to be in the Bowl. We need to get momentum and show we’ve got a bit of character. It’s about playing well, getting three wins and then packing up, getting on the plane to Port Elizabeth [for leg three] and making sure we improve and learn.”
“Portugal are a pretty decent side. They’ve just knocked over the No.3 and No.4 sides in the world from last year. The best teams still win titles but surprises happen on a daily basis and we’ve just been subject to one of those.”
Earlier, tries from Mitchell, Tom Powell and Norton sealed a 19-17 victory against the Samoans.
England had looked equally confident going forward against South Africa with Powell and Norton scoring well-taken tries, but they lost two players – Marcus Watson and Vickerman – to the sin bin and missed a key chance when trailing 12-10 in the second half.