Sport World Cup

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Hunter pounces to squeeze England through

Nigel Whittaker

Published 11/08/2014 | 02:30

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England's Danielle Waterman attempts to jink past Elissa Alarie of Canada during the Women's Rugby World Cup Pool A match.  Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
England's Danielle Waterman attempts to jink past Elissa Alarie of Canada during the Women's Rugby World Cup Pool A match. Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

England advanced to the Women's World Cup semi-finals after a nail-biting 13-13 draw against Canada in Marcoussis.

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Captain Sarah Hunter scored England's only try, midway through the second half, with centre Emily Scarratt converting and adding two penalties.

The result meant defending champions New Zealand could not reach the last four, while Canada were left to wait on other results. An early Scarratt penalty had put Gary Street's side 3-0 up, but Canada hit back and, after a spell of sustained pressure, flanker Karen Paquin barged her way over the line from a well-worked maul.

Both sides had chances as the half progressed, most notably England when Ceri Large twice put through good kicks. But Danielle Waterman knocked on just short of the line and then Kat Merchant did likewise. A second Scarratt penalty on the stroke of half-time restored England's lead, however, and they went in 6-5 up.

Canada started the second 40 with real intent and put pressure on the English defence, which told after 46 minutes when replacement Kayla Mack pushed her way over to make it 10-6.

England finally touched down for their only try after a spell deep in the Canada '22'. After a strong scrum, Hunter was on hand at the base to dot down, and Scarratt's conversion made it 13-10.

Canada wing Magali Harvey slotted home a penalty with seven minutes to go to make it 13-13 and earn her team a semi date with France as the best runners-up.

Hosts France set up an all-northern hemisphere semi-final with a 17-3 win over Australia. This was a torrid affair in which Les Bleus' heavier pack made the difference.

A yellow card for Wallaroos captain Shannon Parry tipped the balance a bit more, and the referee awarded a penalty try four minutes before half-time – the first conceded by Australia in the tournament and, in the end, a decisive one.

That broke New Zealand hearts by putting the fourth spot as the best runners-up out of their reach even before they took the field for their 34-3 victory against the United States.

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