Eng­land men and women through to semi-fi­nals on Gold Coast

The Rugby Paper - - News -

ENG­LAND Men’s Sev­ens face New Zealand in the semi­fi­nal af­ter top­ping their pool at the Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Eng­land ran in six tries as they started their tour­na­ment in im­pres­sive fash­ion at the Robina Sta­dium with a 38-5 vic­tory over Ja­maica be­fore a 33-0 win over Samoa.

Against hosts Aus­tralia in the pool de­cider they won 26-17 to progress to the medal side of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Ahead of the semi-fi­nal clash in the early hours of this morn­ing cap­tain Tom Mitchell said: “It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to take part here in the Com­mon­wealth Games – we’ve been ex­cited about it for a long time so it’s great to get out on the field and do what we came to do in front of what is an amaz­ing crowd.

“Aus­tralia was al­ways a game, as soon as the draw was made, that we were ex­cited about. We love these ex­pe­ri­ences and we knew it was go­ing to be dif­fi­cult against the hosts and their amaz­ing home sup­port but we loved ev­ery sec­ond of that and we scrapped it out.”

Alex Davis added: “Our will­ing­ness to fight for each other, ef­fort on ef­fort is one of the big things we pride our­selves on and that re­ally showed in that last minute ef­fort on their line.

“Who­ever we come up against in the semis is go­ing to be a chal­lenge but ob­vi­ously New Zealand are al­ways a strong team on the cir­cuit.

“We’re ex­cited about the group of play­ers we have and I’m sure we’ll go out there and do Eng­land proud.”

Eng­land started the tour­na­ment in im­pres­sive fash­ion and opened their ac­count in­side the open­ing two min­utes as Mitchell and Dan Bibby com­bined for Mitchell to score fol­low­ing a Ja­maica sin bin in the open­ing mo­ments.

Dan Nor­ton scored an op­por­tunis­tic try for Eng­land’s sec­ond, Harry Glover’s smart work from the restart got the third be­fore Mitchell’s pace saw them es­tab­lish a 26-0 lead at half-time.

Ol­lie Lind­say-Hague’s su­perb step saw him score the first try of the sec­ond­half be­fore Ja­maica crossed. How­ever Nor­ton’s sec­ond saw Si­mon Amor’s side ex­tend the lead and se­cure a com­fort­able 38-5 open­ing win.

Eng­land were at their most ruth­less in their sec­ond game as they faced Samoa.

Mitchell was again among the try scor­ers as Eng­land ran in four in the first half with two from Dan Bibby. Harry Glover also crossed for an im­pres­sive 26-0 lead at half time.

Samoa’s de­fence im­proved af­ter the break but Lind­say-Hague’s sec­ond in two games was Eng­land’s fifth for the match. With four of those con­verted, Eng­land won 33-0.

In front of a home crowd, Aus­tralia put early pres­sure on Eng­land’s try line and were re­warded when Char­lie Tay­lor dived over.

Nor­ton’s clever foot­work out wide cre­ated a gap which he burst through as Eng­land lev­elled the game.

Af­ter Tom Mitchell was ad­judged to have knocked the ball on de­lib­er­ately and sent to the sin bin, the hosts quickly scored a sec­ond try. How­ever, de­spite be­ing a man down, Alex Davis broke the host’s de­fen­sive line to race in and the game was evenly poised 12-12 at the break.

Ruaridh McCon­nochie’s score gave Eng­land the lead for the first time but Tom Con­nor’s try for Aus­tralia saw the game get to within

two points, be­fore Harry Glover’s break and off­load to Davis for his sec­ond se­cured the vic­tory.

The Ki­wis cruised past Zam­bia, Kenya and Canada.

Wales suf­fered fi­nalminute heart­break against Fiji as Gareth Williams’ side just failed to qual­ify for the semi-fi­nals.

A try from Semi Ku­natani with 50 se­conds left did for Welsh hopes af­ter a Justin Tipuricin­spired Wales led 17-14. The late touch­down hoisted the Fi­jians to a 21-17 vic­tory and a place in the last four.

Wales gave a su­perb ac­count of them­selves in a Sev­ens clas­sic, tak­ing the lead through an Owen Jenk­ins score. Back came Fiji with a try from Vatemo Ravou­vou and a sec­ond scored un­der con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances when ref­eree Sam Grove-White ap­peared to im­pede Tipuric’s at­tempt to make a tackle.

The Welsh team re­fused to give up. Luke Mor­gan and Ben Roach scored to edge Wales in front but Ku­natani cut through the cover for the win­ner.

It means Wales head into the games to de­cide who fin­ishes in the fifth to eighth po­si­tions, be­gin­ning with Scot­land.

Fiji will face de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons South Africa in the other semi-fi­nal. The Bl­itzbokke con­firmed their sta­tus as gold medal con­tenders when they eased past Malaysia in their open­ing fix­ture 43-0, Pa­pua New Guinea 52-0 and Scot­land 26-5.

The Scots fin­ished sec­ond in the pool af­ter wins over Malaysia and Pa­pua New Guinea to set up the clash with Scot­land.

Cap­tain: Tom Mitchell

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Tak­ing the lead: Ruaridh McCon­nochie beats the tackle of Aussie Jesse Parahi to score for Eng­land

Speed de­mon: Dan Nor­ton burns in from dis­tance against Ja­maica

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