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England are victorious despite Ireland's heroic efforts

By Niall Crozier

There can be no disputing England's entitlement to a place in the final of the 2014 IRB Women's Rugby World Cup. Nor can there be any disputing the vanquished Irish girls' gallantry in trying to prevent it.

But, in the end, England were wholly deserving victors, the five-one try-count underlining their superiority.

Ireland went into this match on a high, primarily as a result of their first-ever victory over New Zealand in the pool stage. The Kiwis were the defending champions, having won each of the previous four women's Rugby World Cups.

And Ireland's display in the first-quarter of last night's penultimate round clash suggested that those who had installed England as hot favourites had got it wrong.

They hadn't; as things worked out, those who tipped England were proved to have been spot-on in their forecast.

Not initially, for Philip Doyle's girls were first to settle and to score, with hooker Gillian Bourke credited with the touchdown which was confirmed when the TMO was asked by the referee: "Is there any reason why I cannot award the try?"

That came following a relentless spell of Irish pressure on England's line and a bold decision by their captain, Leinster loose-head Fiona Coghlan, who was confident enough to opt to put the ball into touch deep in the favourites' 22 when Ireland were awarded a penalty.

Bourke's throw hit its target and the Irish forwards mauled again, finally yielding the first points of the contest.

But even then there were ominous signs, for the Irish scrum was under enormous pressure. Ireland never managed to stem that tide.

In contrast, England – whose line-out was very suspect early on – sorted out that problem and became increasingly confident.

Having taken that early lead, Ireland failed to add to it, thus England's 40 unanswered points make an irrefutable case in their favour.

Once the English started scoring there was no stopping them and by half-time they led 18-7. Playing catch-up, Ireland never looked capable.

England grew better and better, with their discipline and management combining to deny Ireland space or possession. Emily Scarratt – on target with a 46th minute penalty – and No 8 Sarah Hunter were in a different class and with England in control, all the Irish could do was throw everything into keeping the white waves at bay.

Tries by Kay Wilson and replacement Marlie Packer, who got two plus conversions by another substitute, Ceri Large, confirmed the impossibility of the task. A series of bridges too far.

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