Preview: Women's Cup, Round Three

Date published: August 8 2014

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Seven teams are still in contention for the semi-finals as the Women's Rugby World Cup gears up for the final round of pool matches.

Seven teams are still in contention to make the semi-finals as the Women's Rugby World Cup gears up for the final round of pool matches in Marcoussis.

Ireland are best-placed to secure their place in the final four on Saturday, simply needing to beat winless Kazahstan to top Pool B.

That should be a formality having beaten four-time champions New Zealand last time out, and would guarantee them their best ever World Cup finish.

The other match in the pool should be much more tense, with USA and New Zealand both still in with a chance of finishing as the best runner-up.

With six points each, it's a winner-takes-all battle for second place in the pool, and the two sides will know at least half of the equation when it comes to bonus points because they play after the Pool A clash between England and Canada.

New Zealand, who are trying to win a fifth straight title, will likely need a bonus point success to reach the final four, but they face the last team to beat them in the tournament prior to Ireland, the Americans having triumphed over the Black Ferns in a semi-final all the way back in 1991.

There is no doubt that Pool B is the most complex in terms of permutations, but there will be just as much on the line in Pool A when England and Canada face off in the third game of the day.

Along with France, they are the only teams to have taken maximum points from their opening games, and while England have scored more points, it looks like being a close affair.

Canada have won two of the last three games between the sides while England earned some revenge with a comprehensive win at the end of 2013.

The winner of the game between the two is guaranteed a place in the last four, and stands a good chance of earning the top seed if they can better France's result in Pool C.

Bonus points will also be vital, and with the game being played before New Zealand's match with the USA, there will be no holding back from either side as they won't know what will be needed to make the semis.

Pool C is a similar story with two unbeaten teams facing off in hosts France and Australia.

Les Bleus have not quite been at their best so far, but have still managed two bonus point wins, while the Australians have failed to make the most of first-half dominance, failing to pick up a bonus point in either game.

That means that any sort of defeat will almost certainly cost the Wallaroos a chance of a place in the final four, while a bonus point defeat for France could still see them through as a best runner-up.

In the other two games of the day there is no semi-final place up for grabs, with Samoa taking on Spain and Wales taking on South Africa. The games look evenly matched, although Spain and Wales will go in as favourites.

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