HONG KONG SEVENS
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Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2016

England look beyond Hong Kong Sevens Plate victory and target Rio

Coach Simon Amor says World Series position is not as important as Olympic preparations

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 April, 2016, 8:55pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 12:14am

England coach Simon Amor savoured victory in the Plate final over the United States but his post-match celebrations were muted because it’s merely a small part of an overall Olympic plan.

A reasonably comfortable 19-0 victory in the final against an up-and-down USA team gave Amor another chance to identify talent ahead of the Rio Games this summer.

WATCH: Dan Norton scores his 200th sevens try for England:

England will represent Great Britain in the Games when sevens makes its debut and Amor says there is still a long way to go with his side seventh in the HSBC World Sevens Series standings.

The world series is not really important. The benefit of these tournaments is to find young talent and giving guys who have a chance for the Olympics to try to make the team
Simon Amor, England coach

“It’s pleasing to win the Plate in particular to not concede a try in the last two games,” said Amor. “I’m a bit disappointed to lose to Australia [in the Cup quarter-final] in awful conditions but the team recovered well and I’m pleased with the performance this weekend.

“[But] the world series is not really important. The benefit of these tournaments is to find young talent and giving guys who have a chance for the Olympics to try to make the team.”

England looked ominous on Friday and Saturday, despite a draw with Russia in their last pool match.

But they struggled in pouring rain against the Australians in the Cup quarter-finals, losing 14-5 and relegating them to the Plate competition.

On Sunday, they beat Kenya 33-0 in the semi-final while the United States had overcame Wales 27-0.

United States coach Mike Friday, an Englishman, said his team’s greatest achievement, not only in Hong Kong but throughout the HSBC World Sevens Series, was gaining the respect of opposing teams.

We are slowly, slowly finding our feet. What’s more important is that we are feared by everybody, we are respected by everybody
Mike Friday, US coach

“We are slowly, slowly finding our feet,” said Friday, whose team are fifth in the world series standings after Hong Kong on 88 points, 18 ahead of England.

“What’s more important is that we are feared by everybody, we are respected by everybody.

“Every time we go out on to the pitch we know we can win. We don’t always win but we know we have the capability. When we get to Rio we just want to be contenders.”

Flier Dan Norton – England’s answer to American Perry Baker – skipped past two tackles from inside his own half and raced to the line after only 32 seconds to give his side the lead.

The US tackled ferociously and looked dangerous with ball in hand but England increased their lead on seven minutes with a try by James Rodwell. Captain Tom Mitchell converted both tries.

The second half was closer but England again were able to score with Rauridh McConnochie touching down.

US speedster Baker was not used in the final against England and as a result the Americans were unable to find pace on the wings.

England also used clever sweeping defence to make sure their opponents never had a chance to break.

Amor hinted that England may look to 15s players to bolster their squad as they build towards the Olympics.

We don’t have access to the 15s guys. Hopefully when the Olympic programme starts at the end of May, we may have some of those in our squad
Simon Amor

New Zealand and South Africa have tapped up 15s players while England are waiting for the end of spring.

“We don’t have access to the 15s guys,” he said. “Hopefully when the Olympic programme starts at the end of May, we may have some of those in our squad.

“We still have a few players who are injured back home so there’s more depth to choose from.”

The United States were unable to give NFL player Nate Ebner a run during the three days at the Hong Kong Stadium.

Ebner, a safety with New England Patriots who played at the GFI HKFC 10s last week, was drafted into the squad on the eve of the tournament after an injury to Carlin Isles.

However, Friday said he was likely to give Ebner his chance at this weekend’s Singapore Sevens.