- England win two games on day one
- Rob Vickerman previews the Cape Town sevens - read
England will face USA in the Cup quarter-finals at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens on Sunday 9 December at 11.10 GMT after coming second in Pool C on day one of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
After opening the day with a 29-12 win over Kenya, Simon Amor's side defeated France 26-12 but suffered a narrow 19-21 loss to Fiji in their final game on the first day.
In that match against the Fijians, despite England having possession early on it was the Pacific Islanders who crossed first after Jerry Tuwai took full advantage of a loose ball and offloaded to Melismas Derenalagi, before another England error allowed Aminiasi Tuimaba to dot down for Fiji’s second.
Vilimoni Botitu was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock on which England capitalised on through a beautiful display of teamwork between Harry Glover and Will Muir who dotted down on the stroke of half-time.
With just over a minute left to play Tuwai pierced through the England defence to add another but England demonstrated incredible fight with Glover and Muir teaming up once again for another score.
An unsuccessful conversion left England trailing by eight points but Alex Davis closed the gap with an exceptional converted try down the left hand side, but it was not enough for the win.
In their second game of the day, France were first to put points on the scoreboard through Nisie Huyard but England captain Tom Mitchell responded by breaking through the French defence to level the game.
France fought back with another from Huyard giving them a seven-point lead at the break, however England were first to score in the second half with a beautiful cross-field kick from Dan Bibby which set up Dan Norton to cross under the posts. A successful conversion from Mitchell levelled the score to 12-12.
Muir put England ahead after receiving a great ball from Ethan Waddleton allowing him to break through and cross the whitewash, and then quick reactions to a penalty caught France unaware as Ryan Olowofela spotted space and darted across the line to seal victory.
In England's opener of the HSBC Cape Town Sevens, Waddleton opened up the scoring after capitalising on two penalties, but it wasn’t long before Kenya levelled with a response through Cyprian Kuto.
England were ahead again after Norton broke through and sprinted for the try line putting his side 12-7 up at half-time.
Kenya levelled through Leonard Mugaisi but Norton went over for his second with a terrific chip and chase followed moments later by his third as he evaded three defenders to touch down for his hat-trick.
Phil Burgess added England’s final points after he found a small gap in the defence and powered across the whitewash to secure a 29-12 victory.
All-time leading try scorer Norton commented: “It’s been a good day one in Cape Town and despite the frustration of losing out to Fiji we showed some real promise in the way that we ended that game.
“We love playing in Cape Town and getting the win here a couple of years ago gives us the motivation to keep pushing on.”
Looking ahead to the Cup quarter-finals Norton added: “We’ll go back and review today’s games and work out how we can come out stronger tomorrow – the way we finished against Fiji is how we want to be playing consistently. We’re looking forward to what’s going to be an exciting day two tomorrow.”
Pool C - England 19-21 Fiji
Tries: Will Muir (2), Alex Davis
Pool C - England 26-12 France
Tries: Tom Mitchell, Dan Norton, Will Muir, Ryan Olowofela
Pool C - England 29-12 Kenya
Tries: Ethan Waddleton, Dan Norton (3), Phil Burgess
Cup quarter-final - England v USA
England squad for Dubai:
Dan Bibby, Tom Bowen, Phil Burgess, Alex Davis, Mike Ellery, Harry Glover, Charlton Kerr, Tom Mitchell (capt), Will Muir, Dan Norton, Ryan Olowofela, Ethan Waddleton.
13th man: James Rodwell