England’s ‘low key’ progress soothes Tom Mitchell
Leading points scorer in the Sevens World Series is happy with team’s progress
England captain Tom Mitchell is sporting the scars of battle after a nasty knock to his right eye suffered during Friday night's opening salvos.
But the Cuckfield-born 24-year-old was unconcerned and happy enough with his team's progress which saw them grind their way through the group stage yesterday, rather than cruise, with victories over Portugal (21-7) and Canada (14-12) to set up a quarter-final clash with South Africa today.
"We've been more consistent generally this year and it's something we have been trying to work on," said Mitchell, who came to Hong Kong as leading point scorer in the HSBC World Series, having collected 232 over the first six rounds.
He has now added 14 from Friday night's 19-12 win over Argentina, two more with a conversion after subbing on in the second half against the Portuguese, and then two more conversions against Canada - including the one that allowed their fans to draw another breath - to keep his tally ticking over nicely.
Mitchell said he was soaking up everything he could during his second visit to Hong Kong.
"Looking back two years ago when I first played here, I was new to the whole thing. The occasion passed me by a little bit," he said. "Now that you know what's coming it's not as big a shock to the system in terms of the crowd and the revelry."
It's been a long time since the English tasted a little Sevens champagne here, with their last title coming back in 2006, but Mitchell was still talking up his side's chances going into the business end of the tournament today.
"There are seven new guys in the squad, so it's going to take them a while to get used to playing in Hong Kong. It takes time to get focus, but it's been going well," said Mitchell.
"We're battling the elements as much as the opposition. But we feel like we have the quality to win the tournament. We're sticking to the game plan and putting some solid performances together."