- Dan Norton scores ten tries at Marriott London Sevens as England finish third
- Ben Ryan’s side build to RWC Sevens after back-to-back third places
England 26 Kenya 19
Flying wing Dan Norton was at his potent best as England Sevens defeated Kenya to finish third at the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham Stadium.
The 25 year old bagged two tries in England’s final game of the tournament, his 10th of the weekend and fifty second of a highly productive season on the HSBC Sevens World Series, the highest ever total by an Englishman.
Willy Ambaka scored a hat-trick for former England Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday’s Kenya as the two teams overcame the disappointment of single-try defeats in their semi finals to put on a show of attacking rugby from the first minute.
In fact Ambaka scored from the game’s first possession, sauntering through to score under the posts, with Biko Adema adding the extras. But then Norton took over, treating the Twickenham crowd to the familiar sight of him jogging in under the posts, scoring his ninth try of the tournament after beating the covering defence with ease.
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Christian Lewis-Pratt added the conversion and then slid in for his first try of the tournament on the stroke of half time after a strong run from Tom Mitchell and aggressive clear out from Norton, showing his willingness to do the dirty work too.
England went in 12-7 up at the break and took advantage of uncharacteristic Kenya errors to pull clear at the start of the second half. Lewis-Pratt pounced on a loose pass in Kenya’s half but unselfishly passed to Norton, allowing the Gloucester-born man to score his fiftieth point of the tournament.
Then almost immediately Mike Ellery appeared out of nowhere to score a try in the tenth minute, which turned out to be England’s final try of the competition and established a 26-7 lead. Ambaka powered through for his sixth and seventh tries of the tournament in quick succession as Kenya threatened a comeback.
But England defended stoutly and captain Rob Vickerman gleefully booted the ball into touch after hearing the safari-themed hooter for the final time. After a difficult world series, Ryan’s side have secured back-to-back third-placed finishes at the last two tournaments in Glasgow and London and can approach the Rugby World Cup Sevens this June with renewed optimism.
HSBC Sevens World Series champions New Zealand defeated Australia in the cup final, finishing the series with a whopping 173 points, 41 clear of nearest challengers South Africa.
England 7 Australia 14
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England suffered an agonising single-score defeat to Australia in the cup semi final of the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham Stadium.
Clinical Dan Norton scored his eighth try of the weekend – completing a half century for this HSBC Sevens World Series – after just two minutes but that was as good as it got for Ben Ryan’s side, who must now aim for a second successive third place against Kenya at 17:49.
Marcus Watson, golden try hero from the sudden death quarter-final victory over South Africa, was again the spark which illuminated England, racing 60 metres down the right and then dabbing a neat grubber kick through for Norton, who had the simple task of collecting and touching down. Christian Lewis-Pratt added the extras.
England then defended for the majority of the half, showing huge commitment to the cause. Captain Rob Vickerman epitomised that spirit, putting in a series of huge hits and smashing into breakdowns at will.
But the Wallabies’ possession eventually told, Allan Fa’alava’au breaking through to score under the posts on the first phase after a scrum, with Cameron Clark adding the conversion.
England started the second half brightly, but a pair of knock-ons at crucial junctures ultimately proved costly. First John Brake failed to pick up the ball properly when scooting round a ruck just five metres out and then Watson lost possession in midfield when a two-on-two chance with Norton was available.
Australia pounced for the winning score with three minutes to play, with the field position achieved after a harsh high tackle called against Jeff Williams. From the penalty, Peter Schuster broke through to touch down under the posts and break England hearts.
The Wallabies will play world series champions New Zealand for the title at 18:14 after they defeated gallant Kenya 7-0.
England 19 South Africa 14
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Marcus Watson scored a golden try in sudden death overtime as England defeated South Africa in the Marriott London Sevens cup quarter final at Twickenham Stadium.
The 21 year old, who had the chance to win the game after the final whistle, only to drag his penalty attempt wide, made amends when he collected Dan Norton’s pass and raced clear to win the game.
Ben Ryan’s side, who now face Australia in the cup semi final at 15:44, will be relieved to have recovered from a poor start in which they compounded a series of errors and fell 14-0 behind in the first five minutes.
First Werner Kok made 50 metres by shrugging off Watson’s tackle, allowing Stephan Dippennar to score, before South Africa disrupted England at the breakdown and Cornal Hendricks danced through for the second try. Cecil Afrika converted both to leave England two tries adrift as half time approached.
But, crucially, Norton was able to trot through for his seventh try of a productive weekend before the break, taking advantage of James Rodwell’s intensity off the ball and making the score 14-7.
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Ryan called for England to commit two men to the breakdown in the second half to ensure the ball was retained and as a result the home side dominated possession and territory just when it mattered.
Replacement Tom Powell glided through unopposed one phase after a penalty to tie the scores on nine minutes and as the clock ran down it was all England – and former Saracens man Watson – pushing for the victory. Jeff Williams’ fine run led to the field position for Watson to come close chasing Christian Lewis-Pratt’s kick and then he had the chance to win the game after Afrika was offside.
Despite snatching at the pressure drop-kick, Watson was soon the hero, diving over with glee and being engulfed by his jubilant teammates.
A last-gasp try from James Stannard handed the Wallabies a 24-19 victory over the USA while HSBC World Series champions New Zealand will play Kenya after putting fifty points on Argentina in their quarter final.