England resist Canada to reach Rugby World Cup final


England booked their place in the Rugby World Cup final with a nail-biting 26-19 win over Canada at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday, a length-of-the-field try by Abby Dow swinging the game in the two-time champions’ favour.

The tournament favourites, who will be playing in a sixth straight final, extended their record winning streak to 30 games and will face defending champions New Zealand or France in the title decider next Saturday.

“It was incredible,” England captain Sarah Hunter said.

“We’ve come here to get into that game next week, but boy did Canada really test us.

“Right down to the wire it went, so proud of the way the team dug in at the end. Canada were relentless, they came and they came and they came and the girls just put their bodies on the line.

“That’s what it means to us. We were desperate to get into that final next week.”

England’s trademark dominance at the lineout saw them put the first points on the board eight minutes into the game, when Marlie Packer touched down from the back of the rolling maul.

The No. 1-ranked side in the world then showed their all-round attacking prowess as fullback Helena Rowland sprinted towards the Canadian line before offloading for winger Dow to score in the corner.

Canada reduced the deficit against the run of play when scrum-half Justine Pelletier burst through the English line and clipped a grubber kick into space, and Karen Paquin left the defence in her wake to touch down.

That try ignited the Canadian challenge and, with four minutes left in the half, Kevin Rouet’s side were level.

From a lineout deep in English territory, Canada put the defence under pressure and Alysha Corrigan collected a looping pass to score as the ball was moved wide.

A pair of penalties either side of the break from Emily Scarratt put England back in front before Dow dented Canada’s hopes 10 minutes into the second half.

England turned determined defence into devastating attack within seconds when Claudia MacDonald received the ball behind her own try line before bursting towards the halfway line and feeding Dow, who outstripped the Canadian defenders to score in the corner.

Tyson Beukeboom’s try with 12 minutes remaining gave the Canadians hope, but another Scarrett penalty restored England’s seven-point lead, which they held to the whistle.

“There was no difference in talent out there today,” Canada captain Sophie de Goede said.

“Just imagine what we could do with more games and more resources. I’m really proud to be Canadian and there’s a bright future ahead of us.”

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