Canada staring down the barrel of early exit
Beaten finalists in 2014, Canada face a massive task if they are to avoid an early exit from the World Cup, writes Cian Tracey.
Canada must find a way to get a least a losing bonus point against a red hot New Zealand team if they are to have any hope of advancing.
The top team from each pool will earn a semi-final spot, with the best runner-up also making it into the last four. If two teams finish on the same number of points, their seeding will be determined by their points difference.
The Black Ferns have been utterly relentless in their pursuit to win back the title they lost in France three years ago and their meeting with Canada this afternoon (12.0) in Billings Park will kick off a cracking day of rugby in the capital.
Canada struggled against Wales on Sunday and their failure to pick up a bonus point could well come back to haunt them.
New Zealand will be favourites to finish as top seeds before the tournament moves to Belfast next week but defending champions England will be doing everything within their power to capitalise on any potential slip-ups.
"Whoever wins this game, probably wins the pool," said Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore (right). "We need to win it and ultimately, we'd like to win it with a bonus point.
"The Hong Kong match was critical for us to score a good tally of points and have none scored against us. It will stand us in good stead if points differentials need to be calculated.
"Everyone is very buoyant and excited."
England take on a USA outfit who also have eyes on a semi-final place and their two bonus-point wins thus far has them in pole position to finish as the best runner-up.
England have recalled their big guns for their clash at Billings Park (2.0) but USA will be comforted by the fact that if Canada do not pick up any points, they could be safe.
"This is a winner-takes-all game in terms of topping the pool and will require a full effort from the squad to get the job done," England head coach Simon Middleton warned.
"Regardless of whether players have been selected to start or will come on as finishers, everyone has equal weight in the team, fully understands what their role is and what they need to deliver come match day.
"We know playing against USA will be tough, they play a very physical game and have some dangerous players on the ball, but we have prepared well and the squad are in a good place, not only physically but mentally.
"We have confidence in entire squad and it's now about going out and making sure we put in a full 80-minute performance."
Ireland's Pool C will also have a major say in the final shake-up. If the hosts beat France, Les Bleus could well finish as the best runner-up due to their impressive points difference.