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England responded well to the pressure: Street

England women's head coach Gary Street saluted his team for delivering under pressure after they cruised into the World Cup final with a 40-7 victory over Ireland.

England scored five tries at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris to swamp an Irish team side whose semi-final appearance had been underpinned by a stunning pool-stage victory over competition heavyweights New Zealand.

Ireland took the lead through an early try from wing Alison Miller that full-back Niamh Briggs converted, but England established a firm grip on proceedings by scoring 18 points in 13 first-half minutes.

Prop Rochelle Clark claimed an opening close-range touchdown, then wing Kat Merchant rounded off a sweeping move, with centre Emily Scarratt booting two penalties and a conversion.

MARCHED

Scarratt completed her penalty hat-trick shortly after the restart, and Ireland could find no way back as England marched on in pursuit of World Cup glory following three runners-up finishes between 2002 and 2010.

Wing Kay Wilson added a third touchdown before substitute forward Marlie Packer claimed a quickfire double and Ceri Large kicked two conversions as Ireland's bid for silverware ground to an emphatic halt.

"We knew that this was going to be a huge game," Street said.

"There has been a lot of build-up and there was a fair amount of pressure on us, but we really did deliver and I am massively proud of them all.

"We felt like the scoreboard was fair - we were clinical in attack and strong in defence.

"One of our strengths is the amount of experience we have in the squad. To be able to bring players off the bench with 60 caps is a huge bonus, and picking the squad for the final will certainly be a challenge.

"It's a cliche, but we really have taken it one game at a time.

"If you had said to us at the start of the tournament that we would have the opportunity to play France or Canada in the final, then of course we would have taken it.

"Sunday is a huge game for us, and one that we are massively looking forward to." And England captain Katy McLean added: "We are delighted with the performance, I think the scoreline reflects the fact that we really did turn up on the day and we performed really well.

"I am so proud of all of the girls. The forwards and the backs all delivered, and we have a huge opportunity on Sunday. We can't wait."

England enjoyed superiority in every key area and possessed the game's outstanding individual performers in Scarratt, her midfield partner Rachel Burford and flanker Maggie Alphonsi.

Ireland, though, must now pick themselves up from this comprehensive defeat for the bronze medal match as the tournament heads towards its conclusion this weekend.


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