- Brennan strikes twice in opening day win against Tunisia
- Staniford influential in both tries as Spain are held to draw
Photo: IRB/Martin Seras Lima
England Women battled their way into the Dubai Sevens quarter finals where they face old rivals Australia tomorrow.
They started the opening day by beating Tunisia 36-5 and were then held by Spain 12-12 before going down 12-0 against Russia.
“We came into the tournament open minded with a lot of new girls who haven’t had much international experience but with that in mind they’ve done exceptionally well,” said captain Michaela Staniford.
“We’re on a learning curve and we’ve made mistakes but they’re things we can fix and we made chances too so we have to be positive.”
Against Tunisia, England opened up with six tries, Wasps wing Natasha Brennan touched down either side of half time to break down the North African side.
There was a try on debut for Megan Ellery – sister of England men’s star Mike – who forced herself over in the corner in the closing moments.
Leanne Riley (Saracens), Rachael Burford (Thurrock) and Kay Wilson (Bristol) also touched down with Sarah McKenna (Saracens) adding three conversions.
Riley had opened the scoring but Tunisia – one of several emerging nations eyeing an Olympic place in 2016 – dug in.
Spain – a tough and resourceful side – scored early on through Patricia Garcia and tested England’s mix of experienced and youthful players all the way.
Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol) replied from the kick-off that followed, Staniford (Wasps) claiming the ball to create the opening.
Staniford’s interception try hauled England in front after the break but Spain levelled from the move of the match when Barbara Pla set up Ana Vanessa Rial’s equaliser.
Russia – who beat a stronger England side at last summer’s Rugby World Cup Sevens – were impressive in defence and took their two chances clinically with Rusiet Edidzhi and Anastasiia Mukhariamova.
England created chances, though, with Staniford halted short of the line and McKenna also threatening to give them hope against the Wallabies’ full-timers tomorrow.