England had to settle for second place in Pool D after losing to Australia in an enthralling decider in the final match of day one of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 opening round in Dubai on Friday, but nothing could take away from Dan Norton's moment of history.
They will meet the defending Dubai and series champions South Africa in the first Cup quarter-final at 11:00 local time (GMT+4), while unbeaten Australia will face Argentina who upset the Blitzboks to pip Samoa to second place on points difference. The two other unbeaten sides on day one, Fiji and New Zealand, will meet USA and Scotland respectively.
Norton, an Olympic silver-medallist with Team GB at Rio 2016, made his debut on the series back in 2009 and has had this milestone in his mind for a while.
“It was a nice feeling. Obviously, I’ve had the whole of pre-season to think about it but at the same time I was excited about the whole season ahead of us,” he said. “I’m pretty excited to have my Dad here in the crowd with his big, massive flag. It’s an amazing present for the family and I want to thank my team-mates from the past and current as well.”
The Challenge Trophy quarter-finals will kick-off proceedings on Saturday with Samoa tackling Japan, Spain facing Kenya, Canada meeting Zimbabwe and France facing Wales.
DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS
New Zealand's record 10th appearance in the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Cup final saw them end their title drought at the 7he Sevens Stadium, the 21-5 victory over USA giving the All Blacks Sevens their first title here since 2009.
They had gone into the final with only nine fit players with captain Scott Curry among the injured quartet and came up against a USA side playing in their first Cup final in Dubai only a year after losing all five of their matches.
It took five minutes for the first try to come in a pulsating and energy-sapping final, Tone Ng Shiu powering through the clutches of Ben Pinkelman with Andrew Knewstubb adding the conversion for a 7-0 half-time score.
New Zealand lost Luke Masirewa to the sin-bin and in his absence the USA hit back, Stephen Tomasin running in the try but captain Madison Hughes' conversion went just wide of the left upright.
There was to be no first Dubai title for USA, though, as tries by Dylan Collier and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black ensured it would be New Zealand celebrating a long-awaited sixth Dubai title.
England secure bronze
England left it to the final play of the bronze final to avenge their day one loss to Australia, this time by the slenderest of margins of 15-14, and claim the medal for the third year in a row.
In their Pool D decider Australia ran out 22-19 victors and it looked like they would prevail again with the electric play of Maurice Longbottom and tries by Lachie Anderson and John Porch helping them into a 14-10 lead going into the final moments.
However, England's prolific captain Tom Mitchell had other ideas and ran hard to the line, taking a heavy tackle for his troubles before offloading to Harry Glover who touched down to send the English fans wild in the crowd.
Fiji finish fifth
South Africa and Fiji, the top two in the 2018 series, played out another classic encounter but this time with fifth place at stake. The two went blow-for-blow before Muller du Plessis’ hat-trick try, and Dewald Human’s boot, gave South Africa a sniff of a 19-14 victory. However, Waisea Nacuqu had other ideas and his breakaway try levelled the scores, only for Vilimoni Botitu to step up and miss the straightforward conversion to mean extra-time would decide the winner. South Africa's defence intially held firm but Aminiasi Tuimaba, playing in his first tournament, confidently chipped ahead and collected his own kick to score the winning try.
Samoa win challenge trophy
Samoa will leave Dubai with the Challenge Trophy in their luggage after showing great resilience and focus in a hard-fought 33-24 defeat of France. With a 21-7 cushion after the first half, Samoa had looked fairly comfortable. However, an early second-half yellow card to Siaosi Asofolau allowed France space to play with and they made the most of it, sparking to live with tries from Stephen Parez, Jonathan Laugel and Tavite Veredamu. The problem for Jerome Daret's men was that their opponents kept their score ticking over too and ultimately Samoa's faster start helped them to finish on top.