Gloucester wing Dan Norton seized his moment in the Twickenham limelight as he scored a crucial try in the final of the Emirates Airline London Sevens on Sunday.
England achieved a heroic win at the Emirates Airline London Sevens at Twickenham Stadium with a thrilling 31-26 victory over New Zealand in a classic final that went to sudden death extra time.
Norton was a late replacement with England trailing by a score. However, the winger who joins Bristol this summer, outpaced the New Zealand cover to cross for the try which took the game into extra time leading to Micky Young's winning moment.
In front of a record crowd for the London Sevens at a sun-kissed Twickenham, England staged a magnificent second half comeback after trailing 19-0 at the interval to tries by New Zealand's Kurt Baker and Julian Savea (two).
Wing Uche Oduoza began the second half hit back with a try that was all about speed and strength, Ben Gollings converting. Then when Micky Young dashed in for try number two the crowd began to sense the possibility of New Zealand's lead being eroded.
A third try, this time by James Rodwell and the conversion by Gollings levelled the scores at 19-19 and it was a case of which side could maintain composure.
New Zealand showed their winning instinct with a try from their experienced sevens campaigner Zar Lawrence converted by the reliable Tomasi Cama but then on came super sub Dan Norton to score for England, Gollings' conversion levelling the scores at 26-26.
And so to extra time. In a tense three minutes it was defences that were on top before England made the crucial breakthrough with the winning try by Young of Newcastle Falcons and the England Saxons squad to seal the London Sevens for his country.
"We never gave up believing in ourselves even though we were 19-0 down at half time," said England coach Ben Ryan. "We knew we had a mountain to climb, New Zealand had their tails up and we hadn't been making progress.
"In the second half we allowed ourselves to breathe a bit more in attack and tightened up our defence. Then we brought on Dan Norton and that was that.
"The problem for us in the first half is that we were not lying deep enough so we weren't running on to the ball at pace.
"This was a fantastic final and winning London was special and especially so in front of a record crowd. I think this event is now building and there is no reason why it couldn't become as popular as the Middlesex Sevens used to be. I can see 50,000 plus coming to Twickenham for this day next year.
"We can now go to Edinburgh for next weekend's final round with self-belief. It would be great to win at Murrayfield as we've never before achieved back-to-back wins."
Gollings' three conversions in the final took him to 2000 career points in the IRB Sevens World Series in which he is the all time top scorer ahead of Fiji's Waisale Serevi (1310).
A record attendance for the Emirates Airline London Sevens of 63,500 watched the two days of action at Twickenham Stadium, including today's crowd of 36,313.
Tom Biggs (Leeds Carnegie), Rob Vickerman (Leeds Carnegie), James Rodwell (Moseley RFC), Ollie Phillips (Newcastle Falcons), Kevin Barrett (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Gollings (Gold Coast), Chris Cracknell (Exeter Chiefs), Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons), Dan Norton (Gloucester Rugby), Greg Barden (Royal Navy), Uche Oduoza (Unattached), Neil Starling (Northampton Saints)
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.