England Women finished sixth in the fourth leg of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series at Kitakyushu, Japan after losing 31-0 to Russia in their final game.
Earlier in the day, England lost 21-5 to New Zealand in the quarter-finals. The eventual tournament winners charged into a 14-0 lead but a try by captain Abbie Brown made the half-time score 14-5. The second half remained scoreless until the very last play when New Zealand crossed for their third try.
England beat USA 26-24 in a pulsating clash to set up a match with Russia for fifth place, overcoming a 27-5 loss to the side in the opening pools. Brown, Alice Richardson-Watmore and Heather Fisher scored to give England a 19-12 lead at half-time.
Millie Wood produced a skilful display to score in the second half but England had to hold on as the USA crossed twice in the closing moments.
However, Russia proved too strong for England and ran out 31-0 winners to secure fifth place.
The side qualified for the Cup quarter-finals after finishing third in Pool C on Saturday. England beat Spain in their final game after suffering defeats to Canada and USA.
Olympic bronze medallists Canada proved a tough opponent as they ran out 29-12 winners of their opening game. England was in touching distance at half-time, with the score at 12-5, thanks to a try from Amy Wilson-Hardy.
However, three second-half tries from Canada saw them pull away from England despite a fine score from Brown.
A try from Jo Richardson-Watmore got England off to a flying start against the USA but the Americans hit back with five unanswered tries to take a 27-5 win.
The two losses meant England needed a big win against Spain to secure qualification. Brown crossed for the first try after 25 seconds but it proved to be the only score of the first half as England led 7-0.
After the break, tries from Alice Richardson-Watmore, following a sparkling solo break from Jo Richardson-Watmore, and Deborah Fleming secured a comfortable 21-0 victory for England.
While England remains in eighth in the overall series standings, the weekend’s sixth-place performance move them to within two points of France, who finished eighth in Kitakyushu.
Sevens coach James Bailey said: “I’m extremely proud of the team’s performance in the tournament and its lead up. In the short amount of time they’ve been together, the players have integrated well and that has shown on the field.
“They were a credit to themselves with a couple of really important performances which have helped us close the gap on France and got us in the right direction going into the last two tournaments of the series.
“It’s important we continue to build over the next few weeks leading into Langford next month.”
England head to Langford, Canada for the next round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series (27-28 May) – a tournament they won last year.
England Women squad, Kitakyushu
Abbie Brown (C), Heather Fisher, Jo Richardson-Watmore, Katy Mclean, Megan Jones, Emily Scott, Alice Richardson-Watmore, Holly Aitchison, Sarah McKenna, Millie Wood, Deborah Fleming, Amy Wilson-Hardy
England day two results
Fifth place play-off
Russia 31 – 0 England
Fifth place semi-final
England 26 – 24 USA
Tries: Wood, Fisher, A Richardson-Watmore, Brown
Conversions: A Richardson-Watmore (3)
New Zealand 25 – 5 England
Pool C results
Canada 29 – 12 England
Tries: Wilson Hardy, Brown
England 5 – 27 USA
Try: J Richardson-Watmore
England 21 – 0 Spain
Tries: Fleming, A Richardson-Watmore, Brown
Conversions: A Richardson-Watmore, Scott, McKenna