Semi-final heartbreak for England
March 28, 2010
James Rodwell is left devastated by England's semi-final exit in Hong Kong © Getty Images
England came agonisingly close to reaching the Cup final of the Hong Kong Sevens on Sunday but ultimately came out on the wrong end of a 28-24 scoreline in a thrilling last-four clash with Samoa.
After edging out Australia in the quarters, 26-19, after a dramatic last-minute try from Tom Powell, England came desperately close to upsetting the Samoans, who were bidding for a third consecutive tournament triumph, but were ultimately left counting the cost of missed conversion attempts from Ben Gollings either side of half-time.
However, Ryan had little complaints with the final result and was quick to hail his players for their impressive showing in Hong Kong.
"It was a good effort, but in the end we were beaten by the better team," he said. "We missed a couple of tackles and missed a few chances. But I am proud of the boys this week. I am upset we haven't got to the final because we felt we had plenty of energy because they are young and inexperienced, but we didn't take our chances.
"Every time we come to Hong Kong it feels like England's week, but it just didn't work for us. Samoa were quite clinical when they had the ball and we sometimes looked quite vulnerable when they had the ball and we gave them too much space. Our attack looks after itself and we scored a couple of good tries. We are not in the final but it is a big step for us."
England's conquerors, Samoa, went on to claim the Cup in stirring fashion, coming from 14 points down to defeat bitter rivals New Zealand 24-21 to move ahead of the Kiwis at the top of the overall IRB Sevens World Series standings.
"It's indescribable," the victors' coach, Stephen Betham, said afterwards. "(At 14-0 down) I sent a message onto the guys that as long as we got points before half time we were still in with a chance, and just to keep their cool. Twenty minutes is a long time and I take my hat off to them.
"(Composure) It's something that was missing before in Samoan rugby but we're working on their mental abilities, especially to overcome mental barriers, and we're slowly achieving that. We've still got two to go, so there's still a long way to go, but we'll enjoy the win."
Elsewhere, Hong Kong, undoubtedly buoyed by their shock win over world champions Wales on day two, ended their campaign on a high, beating Russia 19-17 to claim the Shield. Australia yet again saw off South Africa in a Plate final, the Wallabies triumphing 12-5 in a tight, tense affair, while Canada took home home the Bowl after a commanding 35-19 win over the Welsh, who had beaten Scotland 26-7 in the semis.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September