- England finish third in Tokyo, beating New Zealand 21-12 in the play-off
- We have made decent steps forward this weekend – Amor
Photo: Getty Images
England finished third in the Tokyo leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series after coming from behind to beat world champions New Zealand 21-12 in the play-off.
Tries from Marcus Watson and Dan Norton gave England a 14-10 win over Canada in an exciting quarter-final but they were undone 17-0 in the semis by a clinical South African side.
Making his HSBC Sevens World Series debut in Tokyo, Jack Clifford joined Phil Burgess, Dan Bibby and Tom Mitchell on the score sheet to clinch the win against New Zealand.
Clifford is one of four new players in a squad who have recorded five wins out of six this weekend having finished top of their pool on day one (Scotland 36-0, Spain 29-0 and Australia 24-21).
Head Coach Simon Amor said: “I’m positive about the overall outcome. To bring four new guys to a tournament who have never played in an England Sevens shirt before, alongside a number of others who have only featured a few times, and come away in third shows good progress. We have made decent steps forward this weekend and the squad will be stronger for the experience.”
New Zealand lost out to eventual winners Fiji in their semi-final but were the first to score against England with Ambrose Curtis touching down. Minutes later they lost a player to the sin bin and Bibby took advantage to level the score, driving over from close range.
Photo: Getty Images
A try from Sam Dickinson put the Series champions back in the lead but the conversion was missed leaving it 12-7 at half-time.
A Clifford try, off the back of a well-worked team move, and a second successful conversion from Mitchell nudged England ahead (12-14) before Burgess exploited the overlap to score his fourth of the tournament and secure the win.
England remain fourth in the series standings but South Africa have overtaken New Zealand at the top of the table, despite losing 33-26 to Fiji in the Cup Final. There was silverware for Wales, who beat Scotland 28-21 in the Bowl Final and the USA recorded their highest tournament finish this season even though they lost out to Australia 17-12 in the Plate.
The seventh round of the HSBC Sevens World Series takes place in Hong Kong next weekend where England face Argentina, Canada and Portugal in Pool C.
Assessing the draw Amor said: “It is a tough group. Argentina are a very good abrasive team at the breakdown, as are Portugal, and we only just snuck past Canada in the quarter-finals so we will need to be really focused for every single game. If, however, we perform as well as we did against New Zealand then we put ourselves in a position to have another good tournament.”