Commonwealth Games 2018: Saracens wing Mike Ellery helps England men win rugby sevens bronze
PUBLISHED: 11:00 16 April 2018
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Sarries back part of squad that finished third in competition in Gold Coast
Saracens wing Mike Ellery was part of the England men’s rugby sevens team that won the bronze at the Commonwealth Games after beating South Africa 21-14
The experienced squad trailed 14-0 at half-time, but an outstanding second half comeback helped them to secure bronze — their first medal at the Commonwealths since winning silver in 2006.
Branco du Preez opened the scoring for South Africa, before Ruhan Nel’s well-worked line doubled their lead.
In a stop-start game, England struggled for fluency in attack and despite four extra minutes in the first half, the Blitzboks led 14-0 at half-time.
Straight from the restart, Simon Amor’s side were back in the game when Phil Burgess latched onto Mike Ellery’s knock down to run in.
Burgess’ second came as he benefitted from a loose South African lineout and stretched out to level the game at 14-14 with two minutes left.
Captain Tom Mitchell, who also slotted all three conversions, then spotted some space around the outside and he showed his pace for the game-clinching score.
“These games are always going to be tight — especially in the medal matches so our mental skills, our resilience that we’ve cultivated as a squad to stick in those games is what’s special, and that’s credit to the whole group and the work that we’ve done,” said Mitchell.
“It’s difficult to explain just how hard it’s been today, the conditions are really tough out here, it’s incredibly hot and incredibly fatiguing and we’ve had tough games so we had to stick at it, trust each other and keep going.
England were knocked into the bronze medal match after losing their semi-final against New Zealand.
Dan Bibby’s excellent line within the opening exchanges got England ahead following some consistent pressure, but New Zealand responded as Regan Ware went over, before Etene Nanai-Seturo’s score gave them a narrow 12-7 lead at the break.
As the game opened up in the intense Australian heat in Gold Coast, it was Ware’s second score that widened the gap for New Zealand.
Alex Davis went over for England to bring the game to within five points in the final minute, but New Zealand held out to progress to the final.