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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 12:53 GMT
England top group in rugby sevens
Tom Varndell
Tom Varndell celebrates a try against Australia
England scored a psychological blow over bitter rivals Australia in the rugby sevens with a 14-12 group win.

England topped their group after three straight victories and face Samoa in Friday's quarter-finals. Australia, who qualified in second, meet South Africa.

Wales came second in their group to New Zealand and play Fiji in the quarters, but Scotland are out after losing two of their three group matches.

Favourites New Zealand take on Canada in the other quarter-final.

Australia dominated the early exchanges of the battle with England, Chris Latham opening the scoring after Tom Varndell failed to latch on to a speculative cross-kick.

Aussie winger Brendan Williams was sin-binned for abusing the referee, but England struggled to force home the advantage in the first half.

RUGBY SEVENS QUARTER-FINALS:
New Zealand v Canada
South Africa v Australia
England v Samoa
Fiji v Wales
All matches to be played Friday

Henry Paul had a great chance on the stroke of half-time, but spilled a low Mathew Tait pass.

Latham then produced two try-saving tackles on Tait and Varndell early in the second-half.

But he could not prevent England captain Simon Amor powering through for a well-worked try.

With the score tied at 7-7 and Australia's Damon Murphy yellow-carded for not rolling away at a ruck, England upped the pressure and Varndell motored past Williams with ease for a try.

Australia's Cameron Shepherd hit back with a late try, but Williams' conversion fell short to give England the win.

The Welsh went down 35-10 in their opening Pool A match against New Zealand, but recovered to win comfortably over both Kenya and Namibia.

Scotland won easily against minnows Niue, but lost a crucial contest 10-7 to Canada after just failing to cross the line in a last-minute move, before being well-beaten 33-7 by gold medal contenders Fiji.

Elsewhere, Sri Lanka got a harsh welcome to rugby sevens conceding 11 tries in 14 minutes in their 73-0 defeat to Australia.



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