England claim Brisbane 7s title
February 2, 2003

England stunned the two superpowers of the sevens game on their way to winning the World Series event in Brisbane today.

They beat Fiji 28-14 in an enthralling final having already dumped out New Zealand 19-14 at the semi-final stage.

Picture: England's Simon Amor lifts the trophy in Brisbane. (Getty Images)

The final was a classic affair and the English thoroughly deserved their victory, inspired by the kicking of Ben Gollings and the pace of Ugo Monye.

Four minutes into the match Fiji's Nasoni Rokobiau was sin-binned and two minutes later England capitalised when Tony Rogers scythed through the Fijian defence for a try which Gollings converted.

But Fiji hit back within 90 seconds, Medake Davu finding the gap to score and the returning Rokobiau converting to level the scores.

The flamboyant Fijian attack then found another try, this time Sailosi Naiteqe crossing and Rokobiau again knocking over the conversion, but Monye used his pace and a neat kick to score and Gollings levelled things at half-time.

With four and a half minutes left on the clock a smart kick by Gloucester's Kiwi-born full-back Henry Paul put Monye in for his second - Gollings converting again.

In the closing minutes it was another Gloucester player, Simon Amor, who provided the opening, brilliantly setting up Gollings for a try he converted himself.

It was a stunning finish to a tournament most had expected to be contested between the Fijians and New Zealand.

But England upset that prediction in the semi-finals, their robust defence forcing key errors from the men in black.

Monye then produced a stunning display of pace for one crucial score, while the late sin-binning of Paul against his homeland did not hamper the England cause.

Fiji cruised in their semi-final, downing France 26-19 with a mercurial display of their traditionally brilliant sevens play.

In the quarter-finals earlier in the day, New Zealand were 10-0 down to South Africa and a little lucky to eventually win 19-10, while England crushed highly-fancied Samoa 27-5, Fiji flipped a 7-0 half-time deficit to beat Australia 12-7 and France won a thriller 17-14 over Argentina.

England boss Joe Lydon heaped praise on his side after they pulled off a shock to win the World Sevens Series in Brisbane today.

Lydon's side beat Fiji 28-14 in the final having already dumped out New Zealand 19-14 at the semi-final stage.

England's impressive display was highlighted by Harlequins' Ben Gollings, who received the man of the tournament award.

But England sevens manager Lydon had praise for all his squad.

He said: "Our players showed a nice balance of experience and power. Simon Amor was a superb captain while Nathan McAvoy, Will Skinner and Ugo Monye were outstanding.

"We didn't perform well in the early rounds which showed there are no easy pickings in world sevens and any team can produce a shock. Beating Fiji in our final pool game proved to be crucial.

"It was the first time that we have beaten New Zealand in sevens and they were gracious in defeat.

"They were a highly competitive side and we now face them again in our pool in Wellington next weekend."

In the minor placings, Australia thrashed Samoa 45-12 to win the plate competition, Tonga won the bowl by downing the USA 29-10 and the Cook Islands beat Papua New Guinea in the shield final.

The IRB Series continues with events in Wellington, Chile and Hong Kong in the next two months.

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