Planet Rugby

Preview: Women's Cup, Semi-finals

12th August 2014 13:07


MATEY ireland women rugby Ailis Egan (centre)

Final four: Ireland prepare to take on England

The Women's World Cup moves from Marcoussis to Paris as England, Ireland, France and Canada look to book a place in Saturday's final.

A draw between England and Canada was enough to see both qualify from Pool A, while Ireland and France topped Pools B and C respectively.

Six Nations rivals England and Ireland will be first to face off, with England looking to reach a fourth straight final, while Ireland try to reach their first.

That will be followed by hosts France, who won the Grand Slam earlier this year, trying to reach a maiden final against a Canada team who have also never won a semi-final, three times coming up short.

In the remaining games in the battle for fifth place, four-time champions New Zealand will take on Wales and Australia face the USA.

And finally South Africa play Samoa and Spain take on Kazakhstan in the scrap for ninth overall.

England v Ireland

For a long time, England were the team to beat in Europe, but their dominance has slipped in recent seasons, and it's arguably Ireland who come into the game with more confidence.

The Irish produced the shock of the tournament by turning over New Zealand in the pool stages, knocking the Black Ferns out in the process, and that follows on from last year's first Grand Slam.

England did however get the better of their semi-final opponents when the two sides met in the Six Nations this season, grafting their way to a 17-10 success at Twickenham.

After a 13-13 stalemate in their final pool game, England have made six changes to their team, most notably handing skipper Katy McLean a recall after she was surprisingly dropped last time out.

Alex Matthews and Vicky Fleetwood are among the others to come into the side, while Ireland have reverted to the side that beat New Zealand in their second match.

The teams:

England: 15 Danielle Waterman, 14 Katherine Merchant, 13 Emily Scarratt, 12, Rachael Burford, 11 Kay Wilson, 10 Katy McLean (c), 9 La Toya Mason, 8 Sarah Hunter, 7 Maggie Alphonsi, 6 Alexandra Matthews, 5 Joanna McGilchrist, 4 Tamara Taylor, 3 Sophie Hemming, 2 Victoria Fleetwood, 1 Rochelle Clark
Replacements: 16 Emma Croker, 17 Laura Keates, 18 Rebecca Essex, 19 Marlie Packer, 20 Natasha Hunt, 21 Ceri Large, 22 Claire Allan

Ireland: 15 Niamh Briggs, 14 Ashleigh Baxter, 13 Lynne Cantwell, 12 Grace Davitt, 11 Alison Miller, 10 Nora Stapleton, 9 Tania Rosser, 8 Heather O'Brien, 7 Claire Molloy, 6 Paula Fitzpatrick, 5 Marie Louise Reilly, 4 Sophie Spence, 3 Ailis Egan, 2 Gillian Bourke, 1 Fiona Coghlan
Replacements: 16 Sharon Lynch, 17 Fiona Hayes, 18 Siobhan Fleming, 19 Laura Guest, 20 Larissa Muldoon, 21 Jenny Murphy, 22 Hannah Casey

Date: Wednesday, 13 August
Venue: Stade Jean Bouin, Paris
Kick-off: 18.00 (17.00 GMT)

France v Canada

Hosts France come into the semi-finals unbeaten in 2014 and are still to concede a try in the tournament after making it three wins from three against Australia.

They will face a Canada side who have surprised a few people by reaching the final four, but it is well-deserved after drawing with England in their final pool game when arguably they should have won.

Neither side has ever reached the final of the competition, with Canada having lost three times at this stage, and France five.

Canada were very strong up front against England and built a lot of pressure thanks to the hard running of Andrea Burk in midfield.

They will look to do the same against France, who looked stretched at times against Australia, although they were able to keep the Wallaroos at bay in the first half, before imposing themselves physically after the break.

France have been forced into one change with winger Camille Grassineau pulling out on the eve of the game. Caroline Ladagnous will shift across from full-back, with Christelle Le Duff coming into the starting lineup and Jessy Trémoulière earning a spot on the bench.

Canada have made just one change, with winger Brittany Waters coming in for Jessica Dovanne.

The teams:

France: 15 Christelle Le Duff, 14 Marion Lièvre, 13 Shannon Izar, 12 Marjorie Mayans, 11 Caroline Ladagnous, 10 Sandrine Agricole, 9 Jennifer Troncy, 8 Safi N'Diaye, 7 Manon Andre, 6 Columba Diallo, 5 Assa Koita, 4 Marine De Naidai, 3 Elodie Portaries, 2 Gaëlle Mignot, 1 Hélène Ezanno

Replacements: 16 Laetitia Salles, 17 Lise Arricastre, 18 Christelle Chobet, 19 Sandra Rabier, 20 Laetitia Grand, 21 Jessy Trémoulière, 22 Elodie Poublan

Canada: 15 Elissa Alarie, 14 Magali Harvey, 13 Mandy Marchak, 12 Andrea Burk, 11 Brittany Waters, 10 Emily Belchos, 9 Stéphanie Bernier, 8 Kelly Russell, 7 Karen Paquin, 6 Jacey Murphy, 5 Maria Samson, 4 Latoya Blackwood, 3 Hilary Leith, 2 Kim Donaldson, 1 Marie-Pier Pinault-Reid

Replacements: 16 Laura Russell, 17 Olivia DeMerchant, 18 Mary Jane Kirby, 19 Tyson Beukeboom, 20 Kayla Mack, 21 Julianne Zussman, 22 Jessica Dovanne

Date: Wednesday, 13 August
Venue: Stade Jean Bouin, Paris
Kick-off: 20.45 (19.45 GMT)

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