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England win Hong Kong Bowl final

22 March 2013

  • England beat hosts Hong Kong in the Bowl final
  • Ryan looks ahead to consistency in Tokyo next week

England reeled off three impressive victories to ease some of their pain on the final day of the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

They overpowered France 42-7 and South Africa 26-14 – fifth and second in the HSBC Sevens World Series respectively – and then cruised past hosts Hong Kong 42-7 to win the Bowl competition.

The performances were completely at odds with the pool stage defeats against Samoa and Scotland that forced them out of the Cup quarter final places.

And the challenge is now for England to hit the ground running in the seventh leg of the series in Tokyo next weekend.

“We weren’t particularly bothered who we played today,” said Head Coach Ben Ryan. “It was all about us and about putting in a performance and setting the bar to the right standard.

“I want the standard to be higher and I’m hoping there’s permanent change now because our first two games weren’t good enough.

“The one thing we demand is consistency of performance and I’m hoping now that we have the potential to do that and finish the season on a high.”

A cartoon version of Tom Mitchell

The 40,000 capacity crowd roaring on the home side were quickly silenced when Brake’s quick thinking earned him two early tries with Vickerman also ploughing over and Norton streaking the length of the field in pursuit of Lewis-Pratt’s kick out of defence to strike.

Ellery completed his impressive first tournament outing with the fifth and Sam Edgerley added a sixth after Rowan Varty had touched down for the hosts.

Vickerman said: “We’ve got to make this our minimum standard. Every game we play, if we play with the same tenacity, commitment and energy, then it will perpetuate itself. Hopefully it will give everyone here and back home something to cheer about.

“This game is all about possession and momentum and if you have that then you’ve always got a chance. I’d like to think the consistency we’ll show from now on will help us climb the table.”

England 26 South Africa 14

John Brake runs with the ball

Photo: Getty Images

England came back from 14-0 down to seal an impressive victory against one of the big guns in the HSBC Sevens World Series on the final day of the Hong Kong Sevens.

They overpowered South Africa 26-14 to set up a Bowl final date with hosts Hong Kong.

South Africa (second) are riding high in the series standings and beating them eased some of the frustration England felt after the pool stage defeats against Samoa and Scotland which knocked them out of the cup.

“We’ve got to make this our minimum standard. Every game we play, if we play with the same tenacity, commitment and energy, then it will perpetuate itself. Hopefully it will give everyone here and back home something to cheer about.

England had to dig deep against South Africa – the champions in Las Vegas last month – after trailing 14-0 to tries from Justin Geduld and Branco Du Preez.

Watson’s outstanding solo score hauled them back to 14-7 down at half time before England’s substitutes all made an impact off the bench.

Ellery was involved in the build-up of a great passage of play before going over for England’s second try, skipper Vickerman pounced on an error from the kick-off that followed for the third and Watson struck again after South Africa’s scrum crumbled late on.

England 42 France 7

Dan Norton chases the ball

Photo: Getty Images

England opened the final day of the Hong Kong Sevens by running riot to score six tries and beat France 42-7.

There were two tries apiece for Dan Norton and John Brake with Marcus Watson and substitute Mike Ellery also touching down. Christian Lewis-Pratt stroked over all six conversions.

The victory set up a Bowl semi final meeting with South Africa – like England, another one of the big names who didn’t reach the last eight of the cup.

England set the tone by smashing France in the contact area and keeping the tempo high, picking up where they left off in the 22-7 defeat of Portugal on Saturday night after their earlier setbacks against Samoa and Scotland.

Finishing on a high before flying on to the next leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Tokyo is now the aim according to former England Under 20 wing Watson.

"It’s good to get two good performances in a row and we’ll keep going from there now," he said.

"The first two games we gave away tries first, the last two we’ve scored first and once you do that you get a bit of momentum.

"As soon as we lose the ball we’re trying to get it back. Line speed is key for that and one-on-one tackles so we’re trying to put the two together, try and remain unbeaten on day three and build up momentum for Tokyo."

England 22 Portugal 7

England produced a performance full of bite and energy to overpower Portugal 22-7 in their final Pool C match on day two of the Hong Kong Sevens.

But their lacklustre 14-5 defeat against Scotland meant the Wellington champions missed out on a place in the quarter finals of the cup competition at the sixth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

Portugal had stunned Samoa – 28-7 winners over England – in the morning but had no answer to a much more physical performance from Ben Ryan’s men.

A succession of big hits from the likes of James Rodwell and Dan Norton put them on the front foot with John Brake, and Christian Lewis-Pratt touching down in the first half.

Dan Norton cruises in to score a try against Portugal

Photo: Getty Images

Norton cruised over after the interval and then his quickly-taken penalty put Rodwell over in the corner. Aderito Esteves replied for the Portuguese.

Head Coach Ryan is looking to build on the Portugal win with ‘three decent performances’ on day three, starting against either France or the USA.

“There was a question mark over their spirit and they smashed Portugal around the breakdown,” said Ryan. “Small little fellas like Edgerley and Watson and Norton really put some bite into their defence and we did a bit more quality stuff with the ball so I’m pleased that we moved on. Equally, as a coach I’m frustrated that it’s not the default and we’re not doing this all the time.

“It’s not a one-hit wonder tomorrow in the Bowl. We’re going to have to put in three decent performances against good sides – the South Africans of this world are in the Bowl. We need to win all those games, pack our bags, get on the plane to Japan and then put on a really decent performance where we’re not stuck in a Bowl or Shield or Plate.”

Against Scotland it was a different story as they struggled for possession with Norton grabbing their only try and Mark Robertson’s brace seeing the Scots home.

England 5 Scotland 14

Christian Lewis-Pratt tackles a Scottish player

Photo: Getty Images

Despite Dan Norton’s 108th career try, England were short of possession and Scotland took their chances with Mark Robertson touching down twice in a 14-5 win.

“It’s never easy losing a game like that but we’ve got to make sure we hit our straps in the next game and put things right,” said captain Rob Vickerman. “It’s sevens and you get another opportunity to put things right.

“We weren’t good enough there. We’ve got to move on now. We’ve got Portugal this afternoon and we’ve got five or six hours to rest up, recover, analyse and make sure we’ve learned our lessons.”

England saw little of the ball in the first half with a long spell in defence before Robertson escaped down the left, then conceded possession and trailed 7-0 at the interval.

They struck back after the break when Jeff Williams barged up the middle and the ball was moved wide for Norton to gallop into the corner.

But despite some bright counter-attacks – Marcus Watson breaking up the middle in the best of them – Scotland retrieved the ball and put Robertson away for a decisive second score midway through the half.

England 7 Samoa 28

The Scotland defeat followed on from a 28-7 loss to Samoa in England's opening pool game at the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

Samoa were one of England’s victims on their way to the Wellington Sevens title last month.

But the Islanders didn’t give England a sniff of the ball – winning possession from the first three kick-offs – to built up a 21-0 half-time lead with tries from Faatoina Autagavaia (2) and Reupena Lavasa.

Tulolo Tulolo added a fourth try midway through a more even second half and replacement half back Sam Edgerley jinked over for England’s consolation score late on.

Sam Edgerly runs with the ball

Photo: Getty Images

Head coach Ben Ryan said: “Samoa were outstanding in the first few minutes. We just didn’t get enough possession, we can use it a lot better and we will use it a lot better tomorrow.

“We probably made three or four times the amount of tackles that the Samoans had to make. The lads were making decent tackles but if you do that and don’t get a breather eventually the dam will burst.

“You don’t win or lose tournaments on Friday night. We just need to press the reset button and be positive and optimistic. We’re a good side and that doesn’t change in 14 minutes.”