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)
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Matt Kvesic was a try scorer and recipient of the Man of the Match award in Sunday's 35-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Zebre. He praised the Italian side for their spirited opposition and admitted that next week's return game will be a tough one.
After a tense opening half hour in Parma, the game turned just before half time as the home team had David Odiete red carded and Gloucester took full advantage, running in three second half tries to secure the bonus point and the victory over Zebre by 32 points to 16.