England's greater power and precision proved too much for first time Cup finalists the Netherlands as the hosts eased to a 34-7 victory in the IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup at Twickenham.
England have now won two of the three IRB-sanctioned Challenge Cup events this season, having defeated Australia in the previous final in Hong Kong. They lost out to Canada in the first event, in Dubai.
The Netherlands’ Anne Hielckert had opened the scoring in this Twickenham final to momentarily quieten the crowd. But England's Hong Kong heroine Joanne Watmore combined power and balance to pierce the Netherlands’ defence twice before Alice Richardson produced a step and hand off to put England 17-7 up at the break.
Watmore completed her hat trick with the first play of the second half to dash any hopes of a Netherlands comeback before Kat Merchant touched down twice late on to complete an impressive victory.
"We came out in the semi final and had a really tough game (against Canada)," said England captain Michaela Staniford. “We made it hard work for ourselves and we didn't perform, so coming out for the final and putting to bed some of those wrongs and hopefully putting on a show for the crowd was what we really wanted to do.”
For Netherlands coach Gareth Gilbert, whose players are full-time athletes funded by the Dutch Olympic Committee, the final was a promising step forward.
"You’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg so far with regards to the (Dutch) programme. The progress we’ve seen in the last year with these players has been unbelievable. A lot of these ladies have stopped their jobs and their family lives in order to train and play rugby. They train 20 hours a week, which they need to if we are going to compete with the big nations." Gilbert said.
Dramatic route to Cup final
Earlier on day two, England defeated Russia 19-10 and Netherlands triumphed 19-0 over France in the Cup quarter finals.
The Cup semi finals produced two dramatic matches. England Sevens debutant Emily Scarratt scored the decisive try in extra time to edge the hosts to a 19-12 win over Canada. Then the Netherlands produced arguably the shock of the competition, edging RWC Sevens 2009 champions Australia 14-12.
Canada claimed third place with a 19-14 victory over Australia. USA won the Plate, defeating Russia 22-7. South Africa, for whom Zenay Jordaan was the tournament’s highest points scorer with 43, edged past France 14-7 to end up seventh. China defeated Portugal 43-5 to win the Bowl and Kazakhstan prevailed 19-17 over Brazil in the battle for 11th place.
Day two results
England 34-7 Netherlands
3rd place play-off
Canada 19-14 Australia
USA 22-7 Russia
7th place play-off
France 7-14 South Africa
Portugal 5 - 43 China
11th place play-off
Kazakhstan 19-17 Brazil
Cup semi finals
England 19-12 Canada (AET)
Netherlands 14-12 Australia
Plate semi finals
Russia 19-14 South Africa
France 17-19 USA
Bowl semi finals
Kazakhstan 10-26 Portugal
Brazil 14-33 China
Cup Quarter finals
England 19-10 Russia
Canada 17-0 South Africa
Netherlands 19-0 France
Australia 17-0 USA
Day one pool results
Pool A - ENG, RSA, KAZ, BRA
England 26-5 Kazakhstan
South Africa 28-17 Brazil
England 41-0 Brazil
South Africa 21-12 Kazakhstan
Khazakhstan 14-19 Brazil
England 22-0 South Africa
Pool B - CAN, RUS, NED, POR
Canada 14-15 Netherlands
Russia 19-10 Portugal
Canada 54-0 Portugal
Russia 0-19 Netherlands
Netherlands 24-5 Portugal
Canada 29-0 Russia
Pool C - AUS, USA, CHI, FRA
Australia 27-5 China
USA 7-12 France
Australia 29-0 France
USA 50-0 China
China 5-24 France
Australia 22-5 USA
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