irish women bid for semis
RUGBY: Ireland's women enter the last of their World Cup group-stage matches with hopes of a semi-final spot still well and truly alive as they prepare to take on Kazakhstan in Surrey this afternoon.
Their World Cup campaign got off the worst possible start when they were hammered 27-0 by England in the opening match but a bonus-point victory over the USA means they now retain huge hopes of qualifying for the penultimate stage.
They will be hoping England do what is expected of them and beat the USA, while they rack up a significant score against a Kazakhstan side that has already conceded 133 points in just two group-stage games.
Coach Philip Doyle has named two changes to the team that beat America, with Louise Beamish coming in for scrum-half Tania Rosser and Eliza Downing entering the fray on the wing.
Captain Joy Neville will receive her 50th cap for Ireland.
Doyle pointed out that the Kazakhs hold some similar threats as the USA.
"The scrum was under pressure (against the Americans), but the USA are a strong and heavy pack and we're not. We know Kazakhstan are similar and so we'll have to have a look at that and work on our scrums and hope to improve," he said.
England captain Catherine Spencer returns as the hosts look to secure a semi-final spot by beating the USA.
Spencer was rested for Tuesday's 82-0 victory over Kazakhstan on Tuesday; Emily Scarratt returns at outside centre. Hooker Amy Garnett is set to make her 89th appearance to become England's most-capped player.
IRELAND (v Kazakhstan) -- N Briggs (Clonmel/ Munster); A Davis (Blackrock/Leinster), J O'Sullivan (Richmond/ Exile), L Cantwell (UL Bohemians), E Downey (Cooke/Ulster); H Brosnan (Highfield/ Munster), L Beamish (UL Bohemian/Munster); F Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster), G Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), L Austin (UL Bohemians/ Munster); K O'Loughlin (Clonmel/Munster), ML Reilly (Navan/ Leinster); O Brennan (Blackrock/Leinster), C Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), J Neville (UL Bohemians/ Munster). Reps: Y Nolan (Blackrock/Leinster); L Guest (Highfield/Munster); C Staunton (Galwegians/ Connacht); S Ryan (Blackrock/Leinster); J Shiels (Richmond/Leinster); S Houston (Blackrock/ Leinster); M Kelly (UL Bohemians/Munster).