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England Women Sevens were beaten 7-39 by Ireland in the bronze final at Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Grand Prix Series in Marcoussis, France to finish fourth overall.
England battled hard but came up against a clinical Irish side who ran in seven tries in the match to decide third place. Earlier in the day in the final stages, England beat Wales 26-14 in the quarter-final and faced a Russia side who had won all four games so far and they proved too good on the day with a 14-36 victory in the semi-final.
On day one, England beat Italy 31-0 in their pool C opener, followed that up with a 35-0 win against Portugal, before a 14-26 loss to hosts France.
It was Ireland who took the lead in the battle for bronze when Stacey Flood broke the defensive line early on and ran through, then a move off the back of a lineout sent Amee-Leigh Crowe racing down the left to double the advantage.
Louise Galvin finished a flowing move as the Irish had three tries in the opening four minutes before Aoife Doyle managed to capitalise on a loose ball from the resultant restart to score and another from Crowe made it 0-27 at half-time.
It was a brighter start from England in the second half, but following a penalty turnover Eve Higgins crossed for Ireland and she grabbed her second soon after from close range.
Katie Mason did well to race onto a kick through for a consolation score for England in the final minute as James Bailey's side finished fourth.
England Women Sevens head coach James Bailey: “This was a really productive weekend in the sense that we were able to give some of the girls the extra game time they needed as we prepare for the World Cup and also in exposing a number of young players to international sevens.
“I’m really delighted with the way that they applied themselves and it’s been a positive weekend from that point of view. We’ve now got a couple of weeks to put in some hard work before we head out to San Francisco.”
Last four tussle
It was England who took the lead from a tap penalty close to the Russia line, when two dummies from Holly Aitchison set up a gap for her to run through and then convert her own score.
Russia responded immediately as Daria Shestakova broke down the right wing, before Daria Lushina gave them them the lead and then Alena Mikhaltsova crossed for a 19-7 half-time advantage.
Another deep break by Shestakova got a score for Russia and despite and England response with a second try from close range, Daria Nortisina showed clever footwork for her second, with Lushina also crossing for a second time to secure them a place in the final.
It was a bright start by England from kick-off and following a break through the middle by Amy Wilson Hardy, Sarah McKenna gave the ball back inside to Jess Breach at pace and her excellent line gave her an untouched run in for the try.
Wales responded through Jessica Kavanagh Williams as she broke from deep to dot down under the post and England's defence then held firm from a number of attacks.
England regained the lead with time dead in the first half, as Sophie Tandy gathered a bouncing pass to sprint down the left wing for a 14-7 lead at the break.
Tandy grabbed her second soon after the restart following some slick handling by a number of players, before a turnover in possession saw England work the ball to Celia Quansah for a fourth score.
Wales ran in a consolation score at the very end through Alisha Butchers but it would be England who progressed to the semi-final.
England Women Sevens squad:
Lizzie Adam, Holly Aitchison, Shauna Bennett, Jess Breach, Natasha Hunt (c), Olivia Jones, Katie Mason, Sarah McKenna, Celia Quansah, Sophie Tandy, Amy Wilson Hardy, Millie Wood.
Pool C: England 31-0 Italy
Pool C: England 35-0 Portugal
Pool C: England 14-26 France
Cup quarter-final: England 26-14 Wales
Cup semi-final: England 14-36 Russia
Bronze final: England 7-39 Ireland