England take Dubai title
December 3, 2004

England tonight won their first ever Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens title by beating a fiery Fijian side 26-21 in a pulsating final.

Despite going behind early at the Exiles Club, Mike Friday's side showed sufficient flair and passion to delight the pro-English crowd. They roared into the lead and held off a plucky late fightback from the Fijians who scored two late tries and were unlucky to have a player yellow-carded by referee Gary Wise towards full-time.

It was a sour end to what was a thrilling contest, with the English matching the Fijians for pace, power and skill. Fiji had started well, with Kameli Ratuvou scoring early, but they were then rocked by a triple strike by the English backs.

Pat Sanderson cut inside to level the scores, before replacements Neil Starling and Matthew Tait added a try each to put England 19-7 up at half-time. Rob Thirlby extended that lead in the second half before Fiji picked up the pace and came rushing back at the English.

Neumi Nanuku swerved through to reduce the deficit, before replacement Marika Vakacegu added another quick try to leave England's lead looking far from secure.

But then, with Fiji on the attack, Tuidriva Bainivalu needlessly tripped Geoff Appleford and even though the offence was away from the ball, the referee awarded a penalty to England which ran down the clock and virtually ended Fiji's chances.

Ireland's quest for silverware ended in disaster as they lost the Shield final to lowly Tunisia 17-5. After already consigned to the competition for the bottom four nations in the 24 team line-up, the Irish hoped to grab some pride with success for their young side. But two tries to the Africans in the first half, for Otfi Nino and Mohamed Yousri Souguir, were followed by another after the break for Nino.

Ireland finally grabbed a try of their own late in the game by Tomas O'Leary but they bowed out of the tournament on a low.

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