JAMES RODWELL scored in his 50th consecutive world series tournament as England beat Argentina 19-12 on day one of the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
The crucial try by England’s most capped forward came just after half time to put his side back in the lead 14-7. The remaining points came from Tom Mitchell who touched down and converted twice.
England play their remaining two pool games tomorrow against Portugal (03:56 GMT) and Canada (10:32 GMT) with coverage live on Sky Sports 3.
Head Coach Simon Amor was full of praise for Rodwell who had the honour of running out ahead of the team into the brightly lit and lively stadium.
“For any player to get 50 tournaments is special, to get 50 consecutive tournaments is pretty much unheard of in the game of sevens,” said Amor. “James Rodwell has been outstanding for us this season and for many seasons for England. He is a real pleasure to have in the team, he is a great leader for us and an incredibly valued member of the squad.
“I was really pleased for him to get the try but more importantly pleased to just scrape through. The first game in Hong Kong is always a very difficult one. It is late in the day, the emotions from the players is very high. Six of the players were making their Hong Kong debuts here today and the atmosphere is unbelievable, they will never have played in anything like this before. Our decision making was pretty poor in that game but the players will learn from it and they will be better as a result.”
Powerful running by new-comer Jack Clifford released Dan Bibby who popped the ball to Mitchell in support on the shoulder. The captain scored and converted for a seven point lead after four minutes.
Argentina instantly responded as missed tackles by England allowed Diego Palma to break down the wing and cross in the corner. Martin Rodriguez added the additional two points to level the scores heading into half time.
A great inside line by Rodwell put him in under the posts before Dan Bibby flicked the ball through his legs to Mitchell who skipped through the remaining defenders for England’s third try.
Argentina had the final say however when a long pass left England exposed on the far side and allowed Juan Ignacio Brex to reduce the deficit.
Earlier in the afternoon pool opponents Canada beat Portugal 35-7 but it was a tough start for the other home unions with Wales going down 42-7 to Fiji and New Zealand beating Scotland 33-0.
A record 28 teams are competing this weekend in Hong Kong with the main HSBC Sevens World Series tournament, consisting of the 15 core teams plus Asia’s third-ranked side Sri Lanka, taking place alongside the 12 team international qualifier competition, the winner of which will be promoted into the World Series next season.