England shattered China 54-0 despite turning up with the wrong studs as fellow favorites New Zealand and South Africa also got off to convincing starts at the Hong Kong Sevens yesterday.
Monsoon conditions took England, four-time winners, by surprise, forcing a last-ditch scramble, with longer, wet-weather studs arriving by courier just 30 minutes before the start.
“It’s not particularly professional of the boys. I gave them an earful for not bringing the appropriate footwear,” said coach Ben Ryan, adding team officials had to call shops and sponsors for the equipment. “It was a distraction we could have done without. One guy had to run about two miles to get a set.”
Despite the poor preparations and difficult conditions, England were dynamite as they capitalized on a hat full of errors by China.
Dan Caprice scored a second-half hat-trick and Kevin Barrett and Josua Drauniniu got two each as England set about erasing the pain of their quarter-final loss in this month’s World Cup.
“We were ruthless,” Ryan said. “That’s what I asked the boys to be and that’s what they were.”
Defending champions New Zealand also made light of “atrocious” conditions in their 59-0 workout against minnows Sri Lanka.
Lote Raikabula starred with three tries and Wellington Hurricanes flier Victor Vito got two as New Zealand go in search of their first title this season.
“It’s quite atrocious out there. It’s really slippery,” coach Gordon Tietjens said. “Your concentration level’s got to be right up there.”
South Africa, joint series leaders along with England after wins in Dubai and George, later beat South Korea 29-7.
Kenya came from behind to beat West Indies and Fiji, 11-time victors in Hong Kong, thrashed Taiwan 33-0. Argentina, currently fourth in the series, strolled past the hosts 28-0.
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