Rio 2016 Olympian Dan Norton was a four-try hero as England defeated Wales 38-10 to secure the bronze medal in the opening round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai.
England finished eighth in last season’s overall standings but, having formed the core of the Team GB squad that sealed an impressive silver medal this summer, took much of that form into the 2016-17 opening weekend in Dubai.
They had finished top of their pool after commanding performances against Samoa, Russia and New Zealand on Friday, but were prevented a berth in the gold medal match by Rio 2016 champions Fiji.
But they refused to allow their heads drop after their semi-final loss, and got off to the perfect start against the Welsh as Richard De Carpentier used his power to crash over following a blistering run down the left.
Moments later, England were two converted tries to the good, Norton getting his first of the game with a burst of pace, before Charlie Hayter pounced on a mistake in midfield to add another score.
Luke Treharne got one on the board for Wales with a tight finish, before they narrowed the deficit further after the break, this time Ben Roach was the provider of the goods to make it 21-10.
But England soon found their form once more, and when Dan Bibby released Norton, the 28-year-old needed no invitation to put down his second of the game.
He soon added a third to complete his hat-trick with a slick step, before closing proceedings with a chip-and-chase to cross the whitewash once more.
Head coach Simon Amor, who led the side in Rio, said: “In the quarter and semi-final we were very good in the opening stages but then our decision making dropped off and we let the other team back in.
“In the last game it was important to correct that by dictating how the game was played for the full 14 minutes.
“There are lots of positives to take forward. It shows where we are at, close to the top teams, but with a lot more work to do.”
Captain Tom Mitchell added: “We were really disappointed with the semi-final, the way we went off script and were unable to bring it back.
“The boys were down after that, they were passionate about that game, and so it was good to put in a performance against Wales and finish strongly.
“Running out here under the lights in Dubai, in front of a packed house, all screaming for us, is one of my favourite things to do.
“It is very special and is something I try to encourage the boys to take on and we really appreciate everyone who has turned out today. To have this much support away from home is amazing.”
Join Team GB Club today, check it out right here