ENGLAND Women won all of their fixtures on day one at the Dubai Sevens, completing the day with a gritty 17-10 victory over Canada. Simon Middleton’s side backed up smooth wins over Fiji and Brazil with an impressive performance against the Women’s Rugby World Cup finalists from earlier this year and will face France in the quarter final tomorrow.
It was a scrappy first seven minutes against Canada, littered by a series of penalties, until England cut loose at the end of the half. First Alice Richardson collected Jo Watmore’s stunning offload to score and then Natasha Hunt – who scored in each of the three games – collected Michaela Staniford’s pass and sprinted in under the posts from a long way out. Richardson failed to convert her own try but added the two points from scrum half Hunt’s try for a 12-0 lead at the break.
However Bianca Farella hit back at the start of the second half, strolling over the whitewash after Hunt overthrew a lineout near England’s line. The extras were not added and England showed determination to re-extend the lead soon after. Danielle Waterman shrugged off three would-be tacklers and when she was finally brought down captain Abi Chamberlain showed similar strength to power over. England led 17-5 but Canada skipper Jennifer Kish stepped through the defence for a converted try to trim the lead to seven at the final whistle.
Earlier on, England kicked off their Dubai 7s campaign with a 26-0 win against Fiji. In a scrappy opening half Fiji were reduced to six players with two minutes on the clock, but England struggled to capitalise until Waterman dived over to put England 5-0 up. Watmore doubled the advantage after the half-time buzzer, showing neat footballing skills before picking up and touching down. Richardson’s kick made it 12-0 at the break. Fiji showed plenty of courage but couldn’t make a breakthrough, and England punished them with two more tries. First from Staniford and then Hunt to make it 26-0, after Richardson’s conversions.
After some tense opening exchanges against Brazil England eventually scored when Claire Allan made the decisive breakthrough. Hunt and Emily Scott added a try apiece soon after to put England 15-0 ahead at the break. But Brazil came back firing in the second half and Julia Sarda’s try made it 15-7, but Middleton’s side kicked on as Staniford and then Scott with her second sealed the win.
England play France in the Dubai Sevens quarter final tomorrow at 6:44am BST – set your alarms!