- Staniford and Co edged out by Australia in quarter finals
- Newcomer Ellery strikes twice to clinch Plate win over Spain
Photo: Getty Images
England Women produced three performances full of character to claim the Plate trophy on day two of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series event in Dubai.
An inexperienced side went down 19-12 after conceding a try in the final play of their quarter final against Australia, who lifted the overall title with a 35-27 win over New Zealand.
But they hauled themselves from 10-0 down to beat the USA 12-10 and then saw off Spain 17-10 to lift the trophy.
Megan Ellery (Durham University) finished with four tries – one against Tunisia on day one, one against the USA and a priceless double against Spain – in her debut tournament.
And England’s senior players, led by captain Michaela Staniford (Wasps) and Rachael Burford (Thurrock), kept the team on task to emerge in credit after two tough days.
“It was really hard work, we’ve got a lot of tired bodies but also a lot of people who’ve come a long way and learned a lot,” said Staniford.
“It’s nice to come away with a trophy although it wasn’t the one we wanted or where we strive to be.
“We didn’t know what to expect with this group of players but we come out with a lot of positives and to came so close against quality teams. They’ll have learned a lot.”
Against Australia, England were pinned in their own territory for most of the first half before Staniford and Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol) scored tries for a 12-0 lead.
Rachel Crothers and Charlotte Cassidy equalised from long range and England finally succumbed when Emilee Cherry popped up to get over the line after the hooter with extra time beckoning.
The setback pitched them into a Plate semi final against the USA, who stormed into a 10-0 interval lead with Staniford in the sin bin.
They duly defended until she was back on the field and then unleashed Ellery – sister of England men’s star Mike – and Claire Allan (Richmond) for tries with Sarah McKenna (Saracens) converting the former effort.
Ellery, 21, then underlined her potential with two tries against Spain in the final either side of a touchdown from Natasha Brennan (Wasps).