Eng­land beat se­ries leader South Africa at Tokyo Sev­ens

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Eng­land beat world se­ries leader South Africa 21-14 in the Tokyo Sev­ens fi­nal on Sun­day for its first tour­na­ment victory in more than two years.

More­over, Eng­land rose above Australia in the stand­ings into the top four, all of whom at the end of the se­ries will au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for rugby’s re­turn to the Olympics next year. There are two legs left, in Glas­gow and Lon­don, next month.

“It wasn’t pretty rugby this week­end from a lot of teams but we car­ried on graft­ing,” Eng­land coach Simon Amor said af­ter his team’s first tour­na­ment win since Fe­bru­ary 2013 in Welling­ton, New Zealand.

It rained at Prince Chichibu Sta­dium through­out a fi­nal in which South Africa made twice as many er­rors as Eng­land. South Africa would have scored first but Se­abelo Se­natla lost con­trol of the ball when he dived short of the line.

Char­lie Hayter put Eng­land on the board first, straight­en­ing the attack af­ter Dan Nor­ton broke on the out­side.

South Africa’s re­ply was im­me­di­ate and the fin­ish bril­liant, as Justin Geduld ran on to a pin­point chip from Ce­cil Afrika. But it re­mained 7-7 at half­time only af­ter Eng­land cap­tain Tom Mitchell, the star of the show, out­sprinted Se­natla to the ball in the English in-goal.

Mitchell then scored 37 sec­onds into the new half. Eng­land forced a turnover from the kick­off, Mitchell spot­ted no South Africans cov­er­ing be­hind, chipped, re­gath­ered, and crashed over be­tween the posts.

Four min­utes later, Mitchell forced a re­liev­ing penalty in front of his posts, for­ward Phil Burgess quick-tapped to him­self and ran his fastest 80 me­ters ever for the de­ci­sive try and 21-7.

“I saw there was no one at home, and thought if I could make at least 10, 15 (me­ters), and some­one else could be out­side me ... but no one was there,” Burgess said. “For­tu­nately, I had enough in the tank left.”

Fresh re­in­force­ments helped South Africa cut the gap to seven through Afrika, but Eng­land had time and the ti­tle in hand.

South Africa still leads the se­ries by four points from Fiji, which was held out by the Africans 7-5 in the semi­fi­nals and fin­ished third.

New Zealand re­mained third over­all, nine points be­hind South Africa. Af­ter fea­tur­ing in four straight fi­nals, the Ki­wis won the plate. They were un­done in the quar­ter­fi­nals, over­hauled by Canada 19-15 for the first time in 29 matches.

Canada couldn’t pull off an­other come­back against Eng­land in the sem­fi­nals, fall­ing 14-5.

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