England bounced back from defeat to Australia in the semi-finals of the Singapore Sevens to triumph in the bronze medal match against South Africa.
After coming up short against the Wallabies in the last four, Simon Amor’s side overcame the Springboks 26-24 with a dramatic late try in the eighth leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series.
The third-place play-off did not get off to the best of starts for England as Muller Du Plessis and Cecil Afrika both dotted down to give South Africa an early 10-0 lead.
England responded through Charlie Hayter – following James Rodwell’s defence-splitting break on the left wing – before Du Plessis was sin-binned as South Africa were reduced to six men.
Ruaridh McConnochie's try and Tom Mitchell's conversion gave England the lead for the first time, with Mitchell also going over before the break to extend the Red Rose lead to 19-10.
However, Stedman Gans scored under the posts for the Springboks at the start of the second half as the conversion reduced the deficit to two points.
Werner Kok then powered through for a fourth try and Afrika added the extras as South Africa moved into a 24-19 lead going into the closing stages of the game.
But a thrilling finale saw Mike Ellery's last-minute try put England level, and a Mitchell conversion gave them the lead, before he was sin-binned as the six men held on for victory.
“We’re pleased to take home the bronze medal but above all the heart, the fight and the work ethic of this group of players right across the weekend in some pretty tough conditions was fantastic,” said head coach Amor.
“We were disappointed with the number of errors that we made in our semi-final game against Australia but we’ll keep on working hard to get better.
“This weekend has demonstrated the importance of the depth of our squad, particularly with young players like Charlton Kerr coming through – we’re really pleased for him and how he performed this weekend.”
Having topped Pool B on day one with three successive victories over Kenya, the United States and France, England defeated Samoa 12-5 in the quarter-finals on Sunday to progress to the last four.
Mitchell opened the scoring in the quarters, converting his own try for 7-0 before Belgium Tuatagaloa responded for Samoa.
Charlton Kerr, who scored a hat-trick on day one, then continued his good form by scoring a crucial try to secure England's path after good footwork by Dan Norton.
England got off to a sluggish start against Australia in their final-four clash, with the Wallabies going in front early through a Jesse Parahi try before captain Mitchell levelled the scores at the break.
Dylan Pietsch scored Australia's second, but the conversion was missed. However, a penalty soon after extended their lead to 15-7 which they held to set up a final against Fiji.