England beat All Blacks to reach Wellington Sevens quarter-finals

Mat TurnerEngland Sevens reached the quarter finals in Wellington to set up a Calcutta Cup sevens showdown with Scotland on the other side of the world tomorrow.
They stunned HSBC Sevens World Series champions New Zealand 19-14, were held to a 12-12 by the USA and then romped home 28-5 against Spain to reach the last eight for the first time in four attempts this season.
England had struggled in the opening three legs of the campaign after a series of major injuries to key players in head coach Ben Ryan’s squad.
But last season’s leading try scorer Mat Turner and playmaker Christian Lewis-Pratt both returned in Wellington – and both played influential roles in the revival.
Turner scored twice against New Zealand and also touched down against the USA and Spain, while Lewis-Pratt supplied a try and six conversions on day one.
They now face Scotland at 03:33 GMT on Saturday in the last eight with the winners taking on Samoa or Argentina in the semi-finals.
England hadn’t beaten New Zealand in more than a year before successfully ambushing the hosts in their opening game and they trailed early on to a Kurt Baker try.
But Norton got England level with his 106th career try – taking him level with Richard Haughton and third on the all-time list – before Turner put them in front for a 14-7 interval lead.
David Raikuna’s try and Tomasi Cama’s conversion levelled the match once more mid-way through the second half but Turner got the decisive try and England held out to claim a major scalp.
A win against the USA would have been enough for England to advance to the last eight but they were pegged back by Maka Unufe’s try and Folau Niua’s conversion from the final play after Lewis-Pratt and Turner had touched down.
That set up a must-win game against Spain, who had beaten England at the Gold Coast Sevens, but there was no trace of nerves as they coasted home 28-5.
Turner set the tone by striking from the first kick-off, Marcus Watson surged up the middle for the second try and Tom Powell – after a powerful Jeff Williams break – and Sam Edgerley finished the job in the second half.

Pictures courtesy of Matthew Buxton.

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