England won the second round of the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series in Houston after a dominant display in the final over hosts USA.
England ran out 29-12 winners after an excellent weekend, where they had to beat the champions from Dubai, New Zealand, twice on the way to lifting the title. Jo Watmore scored a hat-trick in the final, in a display of real power and pace, and England, led strongly by captain Alice Richardson and with Heather Fisher in sublime form, fully deserved their title.
USA were in many ways surprise finalists, having failed to reach the quarter-final stages in the first round of the series in Dubai. But inspired by their home fans and their skipper Vanesha McGee and talismanic Nathalie Marchino, they were outstanding over the two days.
"I am very proud of the girls. It's been a really tough few days. It was hard playing the same teams on the second day but we came through it really well. It was a great final. USA wanted to play and it was an exciting game for everyone watching," said England coach Barry Maddocks.
Fisher, who was named player of the tournament, expressed her delight afterwards. "That final could have involved any one of the top eight sides because there is very little between everyone."
"This is a fantastic result for us and a platform us to build on for the next few months heading into the Rugby World Cup Sevens (in June). It means the world to us. It was really tough to have to play New Zealand and Netherlands twice but we treated every game like it was the final and that's the attitude we took into each one."
USA captain Vanesha McGee was also pleased with her side's display. She said: "We are happy with our progress from Dubai. We wanted to win but we are only going to get better from here. The home crowd was amazing for us and they definitely inspired us as well."
"We have improved a lot in the last few months. We have a bit more to grow but if we keep doing that we will be steam-rolling by the time we get to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow. There is nothing between the top eight sides - everyone is so tight. We are all fighting in every game but we really enjoyed this competition and being at home was a lot of fun."