England Women Sevens finished third in Pool C at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens and now face Ireland in the knockout stages (Saturday 7 December, KO 5.22am).
It was a disappointing start for England who suffered a 29-0 defeat to a dominant France, Chloe Pelle scoring a brace on day one.
They then faced World Series holders New Zealand on Friday morning and were beaten 40-12, despite a spirited display.
Celia Quansah crossed for England’s first try of the tournament but Stacey Waaka and Kelly Brazier turned the contest in favour of the Black Ferns.
Despite having the experienced Heather Fisher cautioned for a neck roll, Deborah Fleming carved an opening and reduced the deficit to nine points.
However, New Zealand made their extra player count, and eventually ran out comfortable winners with youngster Allena Saili among the scorers.
England headed into their final game against Japan needing 48 points to secure a spot in the Cup quarter-final as a best third-place finisher.
They flew out of the traps, Abbie Brown, Quansah, Emma Uren and Fleming crossing as England led 24-7 at the break.
Japan did not let their heads drop and following a spell of resolute England defending, Fisher showed good composure to extend their lead but Yume Hirano scored a late consolation.
Charlie Hayter's side will now take on Ireland in the ninth place play-off on Saturday- KO 5.22am GMT, live on Sky Sports Arena.
France 29-0 England
New Zealand 40-12 England
Tries: Quansah '2, Fleming '8
England 31-14 Japan
Tries: Brown '2 Quansah '3, Uren '4, Fleming '7, Fisher '12
Squad for Dubai Sevens
Abbie Brown (C)
Katie Mason (Wasps FC Ladies/Lions Sports Academy)
Amy Wilson Hardy