England knock Ireland out of Women's Rugby World Cup

Ireland's first ever Women's Rugby World Cup semi-final appearance turned into a nightmare outing as dominant England hit them with 40 unanswered points in Paris.

England knock Ireland out of Women's Rugby World Cup

Ireland's first ever Women's Rugby World Cup semi-final appearance turned into a nightmare outing as dominant England hit them with 40 unanswered points in Paris.

The girls in green led thanks to a Gillian Bourke try on the quarter hour mark, but England's growing command of the scrum - combined with centre Emily Scarratt's direct running - saw them score 18 points without reply before half-time.

Rochelle Clark and Katherine Merchant finished off well-worked tries in the 25th and 36th minutes respectively, with the excellent Scarratt kicking the rest of the points.

England played with unyielding intensity and physicality and kept their foot on the gas in the third quarter. They added a penalty from Scarratt and an unconverted try from Kay Wilson as Philip Doyle's side - missing the accuracy of their New Zealand-conquering performance - fell further behind.

A late brace of tries from Marlie Packer put an even more one-sided look to the scoreboard as Ireland, who will face France or Canada in Sunday's 3rd/4th place play-off, slumped to a hugely disappointing defeat.

Despite a well-executed choke tackle from Paula Fitzpatrick, England were the early aggressors at Stade Jean Bouin as they turned over the first Irish scrum and moved the ball wide.

Ashleigh Baxter produced a vital tackle on the advancing Scarratt as the English continued to probe the wings. Ireland's defence stood up to the task though and a slashing break from Alison Miller got their attack in motion.

Marie Louise Reilly and Fitzpatrick then tidied up scrappy lineout ball, the former pinching an English throw, and Sophie Spence and centres Lynne Cantwell and Grace Davitt were all prominent as Ireland sniffed out a try during a thrilling multi-phase spell.

The pressure told in the 16th minute when the girls in green turned down a close-in penalty, backing their lineout maul to do the business and it did just that as hooker Bourke rumbled over. The TMO confirmed the grounding and Niamh Briggs converted.

England came back strongly, building promising moves on the right as Danielle Waterman and her back-three colleague Merchant twice tested out Miller's defensive capabilities.

Just as Ireland had managed, the English forwards showed impressive control as they picked and drove for the whitewash and their dominance of possession translated into prop Clark muscling over from a metre out.

Scarratt was unable to convert but England soon turned the screw again in the scrum, nudging Ireland off their own ball in a bruising forwards battle.

Try scorer Clark earned the plaudits as Ireland were driven backwards in the set piece and Scarratt converted a central penalty for a 8-7 lead.

Gary Street's charges - looking to qualify for their fourth successive World Cup final - ramped up the intensity with another strong burst from Scarratt. Baxter showed good defence initially, but England retained possession and it was swept wide for Merchant to hand off Miller and touch down in the right corner.

Scarratt dug the knife in with an excellent conversion, whereas Ireland were becoming error-strewn - IRB Player of the Year nominee Briggs kicked a restart dead and did likewise with a penalty in two uncharacteristic mistakes.

A couple of tight refereeing calls also went against Ireland, Briggs being whistled up in injury-time for what looked a well-executed ruck poach. Scarratt calmly added the three points for an 18-7 difference at the break.

Rachael Burford stormed through the Irish midfield to set up Scarratt's next three-pointer, five minutes into the second half, with Doyle immediately introducing Jenny Murphy and Siobhan Fleming off the bench.

Irish chances were limited and Miller was well closed down by Merchant after Bourke and Ailis Egan had combined to give the Laois woman a rare attacking opportunity on the left.

England turned to their scrum once more, forcing a penalty in the 22 before they created an opening for winger Wilson to go over in the left corner despite a latch-ditch tackle from Baxter.

After spoiling an Irish maul, England broke from deep through Scarratt and Wilson and only defiant defending kept them out with Murphy, Claire Molloy, Cantwell and Fitzpatrick really putting their bodies on the line.

Replacement Packer - one for the all-action Maggie Alphonsi - took advantage of a couple of missed tackles to crash over in the 70th minute. Ceri Large converted and also added the extras to Packer's second effort which saw her win the race to a well-weighted grubber kick from Burford.

IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O'Brien (Highfield/Munster).

Replacements used: Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Davitt, Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster) for O'Brien (both 47 mins), Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile) for Rosser, Sharon Lynch (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Egan (both 65), Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exile) for Cantwell (68), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster) for Spence (73). Not used: Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster).

ENGLAND WOMEN: Danielle Waterman (Bristol); Katherine Merchant (Worcester), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Rachael Burford (Thurrock), Kay Wilson (Bristol); Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) (capt); La Toya Mason (Wasps); Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), Sophie Hemming (Bristol), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), Maggie Alphonsi (Saracens), Sarah Hunter (Lichfield).

Replacements used: Natasha Hunt (Lichfield) for Mason (58 mins), Emma Croker (Richmond) for Fleetwood, Laura Keates (Worcester) for Clark, Rebecca Essex (Richmond) for Taylor, Marlie Packer (Wasps) for Alphonsi (all 63 mins), Ceri Large (Worcester) for Mclean, Claire Allan (Richmond) for Scarratt, Clark for Hemming (all 68).

Referee: Amy Perrett (Australia)


Ireland: Try: Gillian Bourke; Con: Niamh Briggs

England: Tries: Rochelle Clark, Katherine Merchant, Kay Wilson, Marlie Packer 2; Cons: Emily Scarratt, Ceri Large 2; Pens: Emily Scarratt 3

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