- England overturned in Hong Kong final by New Zealand
- Amor's charges had earlier beaten Fiji in semis
Photo: Getty Images
England finished runners-up in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens losing out 26-7 to HSBC World Series Champions New Zealand.
In front of a packed 40,000 crowd Tom Powell crossed the line just before half time to keep England in the game 14-7 but they were unable to contain a dominant New Zealand team who ran in two further tries.
It was a tough route to the final but England had overcome South Africa 14-7 in the quarters and two times Hong Kong defending champions Fiji 17-7 in the semis.
The last time England reached this stage of the competition was 2006 when Head Coach Simon Amor was captaining the side. Reflecting on the weekend he said: “I’m incredibly proud, to play all three of the big teams on one day, with seven of the players making their Hong Kong debut, is a big achievement.
“We have made so much progress in recent weeks and months but unfortunately we weren’t quite good enough in that final game. We didn’t get some of our decision making quite get right but that’s just a reflection of where we are in terms of our learning curve.
“You get so few opportunities to play in front of 40,000 with an atmosphere as incredible as it is here and I thought the courage and the way the guys played for the shirt and their country, and really fought together throughout the weekend was just outstanding. It says so much about them as a group. We’ll keep on building and hopefully next year we can go one stage further.”
New Zealand’s Ben Lam was first to score in the final, going over in the corner despite the defensive efforts of Dan Norton, before Tim Mikkelson extended New Zealand’s lead.
With the rain pouring down and decisions not going their way, England struggled to replicate the dynamism of earlier performances. Quick thinking by Powell to tap and go when a penalty was awarded in front of the posts halved the deficit heading into the break after skipper Tom Mitchell had added a conversion.
Having been beaten to third place by England in Tokyo last weekend, New Zealand stepped up another gear in the second half and DJ Forbes and Sam Dickinson were next to break through England’s defence.
The crowd erupted when Marcus Watson cut a sharp line off Mitchell’s shoulder to run the length of the field and touch down, but the pass was deemed forward and the try disallowed.
Three scores ahead with the clock ticking down, New Zealand continued to apply the pressure in both attack and defence. England ran out of options for a disappointing end to an exciting and encouraging tournament for the squad.