2014 Women's Rugby World Cup
England ease into World Cup final
Tom Hamilton at Stade Jean-Bouin
August 13, 2014
England celebrate Kat Merchant's try © Getty Images
England booked a place in their fourth World Cup final on the trot thanks to a 40-7 win over Ireland at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris on Wednesday.
Gary Street's side raised their game to a level above their form in the pool stages as they outscored Ireland five tries to one with Emily Scarratt and No.8 Rachel Hunter putting in impressive performances. England enjoyed set piece supremacy throughout with their dominant performance giving their backs the platform to play off.
The game started as a nervy affair with both sides wingers finding themselves making breaks but running into cul-de-sacs but it was Ireland who got the first points on the board when Alison Miller darted over from close range after a marauding Irish maul bulldozed towards England's line. At that stage, England looked rattled by Ireland with Katy Mclean's following restart going out on the full but she regained her composure as did England.
Her playmaking abilities at fly-half triggered numerous assaults on Ireland's line and when slack kicking gave England a five-metre lineout, Rochelle Clark punished Ireland from the subsequent driving maul. It was a game that did not want for physicality but Scarratt's pace and ability to break the line saw Ireland scramble to cope with her. Come the 36th minute After a try-saving tackle from Miller on her, the ball was recycled and Kat Merchant scored in the opposite corner, brushing off the attempts of Ashleigh Baxter.
Scarratt slotted penalties either side of half-time as England established a two-try lead but they stretched that in the 56th minute with Kay Wilson managed to get the ball down in the corner despite good work from Baxter. The conversion was missed and Ireland had their opportunities to narrow the deficit soon after but in the blink of an eye they went from hammering away on England's try line to defending their own. While that attack saw Ireland hold England out, they soon had their fourth try when Marlie Packer bundled over.
With the contest effectively over, England exploited tiredness in the Irish ranks for Packer to grab her second although replays showed the grounding was not as clear cut as first perceived. It mattered little and as the clock ticked on to 80 minutes the English bench waited in anticipation for the full-time whistle to blow but their attention will switch to the final where they will play either Canada or France on Sunday.
Emily Scarratt breaks forward for England © Getty Images
Earlier, New Zealand made easy work of Wales winning 63-7 in the first game of the day at Stade Jean-Bouin. The Kiwis crossed for 11 tries in total with five coming in the first 40. Shakira Baker grabbed a first-half hat-trick with Selica Winiata and Aroha Savage also scoring. In the second 40 it was more of the same with Winiata grabbing her second alongside tries from Linda Itunu, Honey Hireme, Rawinia Everitt, Amiria Rule and a fourth for Baker.
South Africa saw off Samoa 25-24 with Zandile Nojoko, Rachelle Geldenhuys and Veroeshka Grain crossing for the victors and Bella Milo grabbing a double for Samoa alongside a score for Merenaite Faitala-Mariner. Spain were also in action and they defeated Kazakhstan 18-5.
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Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.