England’s tight-knit squad helped them win the European Sevens Grand Prix Series event in Manchester on Sunday, according to a prolific Tom Bowen.
Bowen scored four tries across the weekend, including one in Sunday evening’s final, as England saw off a resilient French outfit to win 28-21.
They had to come from behind twice to beat France and lift the trophy, while Scotland and Portugal also took home silverware with the Plate and the Bowl respectively.
“We came here to win the tournament,” said Bowen. “There’s not many of us, so when you spend so much time together, especially on these tours, you become really good friends and it makes you perform better.
“I’m happy with my own personal performance. There are a few things I’ve got to work on but pleased with what I did in the final and what I did all tournament really.
“I managed to get a few tries so I’m happy enough with that.”
England comfortably dismissed Germany in the first Cup quarter-final of the day, running in five tries to win 35-0 and setting up a semi-final clash against Pool A rivals Russia, while Spain and France advanced at the expense of Belgium and Wales.
England produced a ruthless performance against Russia for the second time in two days, winning 26-5, before finishing the job in the final and Bowen’s focus has already shifted to the final round of the Grand Prix series.
“Everyone knows the system, knows how we play, and what to do in each situation,” he added. “The team is gelling together really well. We’re a really tight unit.
“We’ve got a week to recover and then it’s all guns blazing for Bucharest. Everyone is raring fit. We came with a few niggles here and there but nothing major hopefully.”
Scotland emerged from the weekend as Plate competition winners, beating Belgium 33-7 in the final.
They recovered well from a disappointing performance against Russia, going on to record an impressive 35-12 victory over Germany before thumping Belgium.
“After we’d lost in the Cup the best we could do was win the Plate and we’ve achieved that,” reflected Colin Gregor, Scotland’s leading scorer across the weekend.
“We just didn’t get to the intensity that we needed to against Russia, but having said that the boys showed good character to come back and put in two good performances at the end of the day.
“I think the squad is in good shape leading up to Bucharest. Physically everybody has got through this weekend. We’re still using these tournaments as part of our pre-season for further down the line.”
Elsewhere, Wales finished in seventh place after losing to eventual finalists France in the Cup quarter-final and Belgium at the semi-final stage of the Plate.
The Bowl final itself was a ferocious contest between Romania and Portugal, with the Portuguese romping away to a 26-7 victory.
Romanian ill-discipline left them with two players spending time in the sin-bin during the first half, and Portugal took full advantage.
Four tries, including one from captain Pedro Leal, helped swing the match towards Portugal but the skipper was not over the moon with the weekend’s work.
“We are looking to improve and be in better condition for Bucharest, playing better than we did today,” he said.
“We’ve only been training for about two weeks so it’s just the beginning of a big year for us. We have four weeks until Gold Coast, which is our main goal.
“We are not happy about our performance but that’s life. We will work to be better next week.”
Manchester Sevens Final Standings – European Sevens Grand Prix Series:
Main image courtesy of England Rugby via YouTube, with thanks.