England women win in Moscow

Francesca Matthews scored one of England's four tries in the final
Francesca Matthews scored one of England's four tries in the final

England claimed victory in the opening leg of the FIRA-AER Women's Sevens Championship after beating the hosts Russia 24-20 in the final in Moscow.

After securing a quarter-final triumph over Ireland and dispatching the Netherlands in the semi-finals, a young England side were keen to make a good start to the final.

Simon Middleton's side did just that as Leanne Riley opened England's account before Sarah McKenna and Francesca Matthews ran in tries to give England a 17-0 lead at half-time.

Russia rallied with three tries of their own but Riley's second touch down proved crucial as England held on for victory.

Middleton said: "I could not be more proud of the players today. We were going into the unknown this weekend with a young and inexperienced squad. I knew they were good players but we had to see them play on the front line as it were - and they have done a sublime job and exceeded all my expectations.

"The final was a tough match indeed, taking on Russia in their own backyard and although we made a great start Russia came back at us like we knew they could.

"However, the players showed they have mature heads on young shoulders and kept their composure to hang on it there."

The second stage of the championship takes place in Brive, France, next weekend.