England will take on Fiji in the Quarter-Finals at the Gold Coast 7s meaning a reunion for the players with former coach Ben Ryan
ENGLAND made their best start in three years at the Gold Coast Sevens with wins in their opening two matches on the first day of the new HSBC Sevens World Series.
They beat Spain 54-7 and France 26-12 to progress to the quarter finals before going down 22-14 against South Africa in their final Pool B match.
The result means they go into tomorrow's quarter finals where they will face Fiji, who are now under the management of their former boss Ben Ryan.
Dan Bibby scored a hat-trick of tries as they opened their account against Spain, while leading scorer Dan Norton struck twice as France were beaten.
South Africa then took advantage of some defensive lapses despite well-crafted England scores from Tom Mitchell and James Rodwell.
New Head Coach Simon Amor was given the perfect start on Day One at Skilled Park as England cut loose against Spain, who beat them in the Bowl final here last year, by running in eight tries.
Mitchell struck twice in the opening three minutes before Bibby and most-capped forward Rodwell made it 26-0 at the interval.
Amor used all five substitutes in the second half – including a first appearance at this level for former Cornish Pirates flanker Phil Burgess – and the tries kept on coming.
Spain were hustled into mistakes and former Fylde playmaker Bibby completed his hat-trick with replacements John Brake and Mat Turner also touching down.
France offered a more physical challenge in game two as England changed their line-up with starts for Burgess, Turner, Lewis-Pratt, Mike Ellery and captain Tom Powell.
Turner and Norton struck early on – Lewis-Pratt converting one – but France had levelled the scores by the break through Vincent Inigo and Renaud Delmas.
Lewis-Pratt’s first try of the tournament pulled them away again and Norton – 52 tries last season – made sure 90 seconds from time.
England started purposefully and patiently against South Africa before Mitchell surged through the middle to score.
But they conceded penalties and missed a couple of tackles with Stephen Dippenaar, Cornal Hendricks, Justin Geduld and Kyle Brown all taking advantage.
Amor’s side finished with a length of the field strike, Rodwell going under the posts after half-a-dozen players handled for one of the tries of the day .