Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Hunt the hero as England progress

Simon Hunt

Two years ago, Simon Hunt was told he would never play for England again after being spotted dressed as a ballerina on a boozy weekend at the London Sevens.

On Friday, Hunt emerged as England's last-gasp hero with the match-winning try against Fiji that secured Ben Ryan's team a place in the quarter-finals of the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens.

Wales also reached the last eight after beating Kenya and drawing with reigning series champions Samoa on an impressive opening day. Paul John's men will play New Zealand on Saturday.

England were in a hole heading into the Fiji game. They had to win to avoid an embarrassing elimination from the main competition after suffering a first ever defeat by minnows Portugal.

With the scores tied at 21-21, Hunt came off the bench to collect a pass from Dan Norton and score the crucial try in the dying seconds as England booked a quarter-final tie with Australia.

"It was like a phoenix from the flames," said Hunt. "We were devastated after the Portugal game. We haven't won anything yet but now we have got a chance."

Ryan admitted fearing the wrath of boss Rob Andrew if England crashed out of the main tournament in the pool stages, given the investment made by the Rugby Football Union in central contracts.

England had opened with a tough 24-12 win against France, featuring two tries from Dan Caprice, before falling to Portugal 14-12.

Caprice scored another spectacular try against Fiji and Ben Gollings touched down under the posts before James Rodwell brushed off two tacklers to put England 21-14 ahead.

When Fiji hit back England knew a draw would not be enough but they remained composed and Norton found Hunt to seal the victory.

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