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.
Earlier in the day England beat Wales 26-14 in the quarter-final but lost to Russia 14-36 in the semi-final.
In the pool stages on day one, England beat Italy 31-0 in their opener, followed by 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. 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.
In the semi-final match 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 the lead. Alena Mikhaltsova then crossed for a 19-7 half-time advantage.
Another break from deep by Shestakova saw Russia score another and England quickly responded with a second try from close range. However Nortishina and Lushina scored two more tries for England’s opposition, securing them a place in the final.
Against Wales it was a positive start by England from the 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 to the try line.
Wales responded through Jessica Kavanagh Williams as she broke from deep to dot down under the post and England’s defence then held firm a number of Welsh attacks.
England regained the lead with time up 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 try at the very end through Alisha Butchers but was England who progressed to the semi-final.
England Women Sevens head coach James Bailey commented: “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.”
England Women Sevens squad for Marcoussis:
Natasha Hunt ©
Amy Wilson Hardy
England Women Sevens results
England 31-0 Italy
Tries: Jess Breach, Millie Wood, Olivia Jones
England 35-0 Portugal
Tries: Natasha Hunt, Olivia Jones, Amy Wilson Hardy, Celia Quansah, Katie Mason
England 14-26 France
Tries: Amy Wilson Hardy, Jess Breach
Cup quarter-final: England 26-14 Wales
Tries: Jess Breach, Sophie Tandy (2), Celia Quansah
Cup semi-final: England 14-36 Russia
Tries: Holly Aitchinson, Jess Breach
Bronze final: England 7-39 Ireland
Tries: Katie Mason
Photo above shows Celia Quansah playing for Loughborough
Courtesy of the RFU