Varndell delivers Sevens title for England

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The Independent Online

England retained the Dubai Sevens title with a 28-26 win over Fiji, holding off a late comeback from the islanders. A sell-out 60,000 crowd watched Fiji take the lead through a try from Jone Daunivucu only for England to level through Leicester wing Tom Varndell.

Mika Leawere hit back for Fiji, before Ben Gollings scored and converted for a 14-12 lead at the break. Gollings touched down again for a 21-12 lead. Sireli Naqelevuki's try reduced the deficit to two points but Varndell went over in the corner for his second of the match.

Gollings slotted the conversion for a 28-19 lead, which Fiji reduced to 28-26 but England's crown was assured, Gollings' final conversion proving a sweet reversal of his Hong Kong disappointment earlier in the year.

England secured a place in the final of the Dubai with a narrow 7-5 win over Samoa. The game was scoreless at the break but the Samoans took the lead through a try from Henry Bryce, which they failed to convert.

England's chance came when Alapasa Cordtz was sent to the sin bin with two minutes to go and Varndell took advantage of the extra man to touch down in the final seconds.

Gloucester's Simon Amor kicked the crucial conversion, setting up a meeting with Fiji, who beat South Africa.

The 20-year-old Varndell produced a dominant individual performance as Mike Friday's squad had earlier moved into the quarter-finals with a 33-5 win over Australia.

It was a satisfying win for Friday after his defending champions had defeated Kenya 52-7 and Uganda 48-0. Friday was smiling after his side's impressive performance. "We've had a good day, but the tournament isn't won on day one," he said. "I'm pleased because this is a new experience for a lot of the guys and they performed well under the pressure."

Australia opened the scoring through Josh Gamgee, who picked up a loose ball to go over untouched.

But then Varndell shifted gears and scored an excellent individual try by rounding Shaun Mackay with his pace late in the first half. He added a second just before the break and then made Simon Amor's try just after the restart.

He found inches of space down the blind side, beat one man, held off another and slipped the ball to Amor. Andrew Vilk beat the Australians for pace to go in at the corner and Ben Foden added another try to seal a big victory.

The Scottish international Ben Hinshelwood has announced his retirement from professional rugby with immediate effect. Hinshelwood, 28, has been plagued by a long-standing back problem.

Two months ago, the condition led him to announce he was taking a break from international rugby but, after further medical advice, he has now called time on his career completely.

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