- Women's Sevens side beat Brazil and Spain on day one in Dubai
- 'We dug deep and put in a performance,' says coach Maddock
Ruth Laybourn provided the cutting edge as England’s inexperienced women’s side reached the knockout stages of the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series event.
The 28 year-old from York scored five tries in three games as England recovered from a 20-5 defeat against South Africa to see off Brazil 22-0 and Spain 17-7.
Photo: Martin Seras Lima
England are without half-a-dozen of the major names who helped them capture titles in Hong Kong and London last season.
But they were better value than the margin of defeat against South Africa suggests, dominated their second game to beat Brazil and ground out the opportunities for Laybourn and Tash Brennan to strike against Spain and book a date with New Zealand in the quarter finals.
Head Coach Barry Maddock said: “Everything was on that last game, we had spoken about who wanted it more and they dug deep and put in a performance so I’m really happy,
“Ruth’s been in the system for a while, she’s got two caps at 15-a-side and she’s a late developer who comes to us with an athletics background as a 200m runner. If we can get the ball to her she’s got the pace to do some damage.
“Fair play to Tash Brennan, too, who’s a winger who we’ve moved to prop and she skipped through to score at the end.”
Photo: Martin Seras Lima
Darlington Mowden Park flier Laybourn took her chance by racing away to score against the Boks, then finishing off well-worked team tries against 2016 Olympic hosts Brazil.
South Africa raced into a 17-0 first-half lead after Phumeza Gadu’s interception score and touchdowns from Zenay Jordan and Yolanda Meiring. Laybourn got England on the board but South Africa ran down the clock and added a penalty to make sure of the win.
Brazil were quick and physical too, but England were more direct and astute in the second match with Laybourn opening the scoring and Royal Engineers Corporal Jane Leonard (Wasps) pouncing for the second.
Laybourn struck again after the break and the final try went to teenage Saracens wing Leanne Riley after a powerful break and offload from Lichfield forward Harriet Millar Mills.
Laybourn’s two tries against Spain put England 12-7 up midway through the second half, and they then hammered away with Brennan driving round the side of a ruck and breaking a tackle before stretching over the line.