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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 24 May, 2018


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Hello, and welcome to our liveblog on a historic day for Irish sport.

Here are today’s teams:

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: Sharon Lynch (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exile).

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: Emma Croker (Richmond), Laura Keates (Worcester), Rebecca Essex (Richmond), Marlie Packer (Wasps), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Ceri Large (Worcester), Claire Allan (Richmond).

Referee: Amy Perrett (Australia)

Assistant Referees: Nicky Inwood (New Zealand), Alex Pratt (Scotland)

Here’s some reading material for you ahead of today’s game.

Some pre-game pics…

Lynne Cantwell and Ashleigh Baxter in the dressing room before the game

(Ireland players in the dressing room prior to the match)

Nora Stapleton in the dressing room before the game

(Ireland’s Nora Stapleton in the dressing room before the game)

Sophie Spence

(Ireland’s Sophie Spence arrives ahead of the game)

For those of you reading who aren’t hardcore followers of women’s rugby, here’s a few interesting facts relating to this game that you may not know.

  • England have lost the last three World Cup finals to New Zealand.
  • It’s Ireland’s first time in the World Cup semi-final.
  • England won 17 -10 when the sides met in Twickenham this season.
  • Irish head coach Philip Doyle is retiring after the World Cup.
  • Ireland beat England 25 – 0 on the way to the 2013 Six Nations.
  • The winners will face either France or Canada (who finished 4th in 98, 2002 and 2006), which takes place later this evening (kick off: 19.45).

George Hook in typically pessimistic mood ahead of the game.

We’re underway…

1 minute - Good start for Ireland! They win a scrum inside the England half. However, their opponents subsequently win it against the head and can now launch an attack.

6 minutes - England have had the better of the opening stages, though Ireland have been impressive in defence thus far.

Niamh Briggs has just kicked into touch to give Ireland some relief from the early pressure.

9 minutes - Ireland have a lineout just outside England’s 10-metre line.

Ireland have attacked a little more in recent minutes, though the it’s been very evenly matched overall.

10 minutes - Ireland win a scrum just outside England’s 22.

They subsequently launch an attack, but England defend well and eventually steal it off an isolated Niamh Briggs after she’s tackled.

15 minutes - Alison Miller is penalised for not rolling away, but it’s brought back for an Ireland penalty, after some desperate England defending on their line. They kick it into touch for a lineout as they prepare to attack once more.

TRY! IRELAND 7-0 ENGLAND (Rosser 15)

15 minutes - The ball goes down in the vicinity of the English line amid a deluge of bodies from both sides after another good lineout from Ireland. The referee awards it after consulting the video ref with Tania Rosser being credited. Briggs makes no mistake with the conversion.

Though our friends at the Mirror briefly thought a certain Sindo journalist had arrived to redeem herself.

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ENGLAND 8-7 IRELAND (Scarratt  33)

England lead for the first time now thanks to an Emily Scarratt penalty. They’ve fought back impressively and look set to lead at half-time.

23 mins - Ireland in trouble at the moment. England with an attack that lasts for 11 phases, before Baxter collects a dinked kick through and eventually puts it into touch to alleviate the pressure temporarily.

TRY! IRELAND 7-5 ENGLAND (Hunter 24)

24 minutes - It was coming and it’s another scrappy try with Sarah Hunter touching down eventually after a sustained England attack. Ireland still lead by two, however, as the conversion is missed.


England 15-7 Ireland (Merchant 35)

Kat Merchant crosses over in the corner, handing off her marker as she does so. Scarratt makes no mistake with the ensuing conversion.

Big blow for Ireland!

39 minutes - England win a penalty on the halfway line and kick to touch for one last play just before half-time.

England 18-7 Ireland (Scarratt 40)

Emily Scarratt makes it three successful kicks out of four on the brink of half-time. The Irish team have a bit of a mountain to climb in the second half if they’re to get back in this game.


The second half is underway…

41 minutes - English wing Kay Wilson is tackled into play as her team begin the second half in a similarly positive fashion to the way in which they ended the first.

There are no changes so far from Ireland by the way, though Jenny Murphy is warming up.

45 minutes - England break into the Irish 22, after another missed tackle, this time from Nora Stapleton, they win a penalty.

Emily Scarratt, who’s been excellent so far, can extend England’s lead.

England 21-7 Ireland (Scarratt 45)

Scarratt unsurprisingly is successful with another attempt, increasing England’s advantage in the process.

Ireland react by making two changes, with Siobhan Fleming and Jenny Murphy on for Grace Davitt and Heather O’Brien.

49 minutes - Promising break for Ireland, but Alison Miller is eventually penalised for not releasing after being tackled.

Ireland have just under half an hour now to rescue their World Cup dream.

53 minutes - England now have a scrum inside the Irish 22. No sign of an Ireland comeback yet, with their opponents so far continuing where they left off at the end of the first-half.

England 26-7 Ireland (Wilson)

A well-worked play from England ultimately sees Kay Wilson dive over in the corner.

After consultation with the video official, the referee awards the try.

That might be the final nail in Ireland’s coffin, I’m afraid, though Scarratt has at least dragged the conversion wide.

59 minutes - Ireland have a lineout in the English 22.

They subsequently win a penalty that Briggs puts into touch again. Does an unlikely comeback start here?

61 minutes - Poor knock-on from Tania Rosser as she attempts to collect a kick and England launch an attack.

Kay Wilson, who’s been a huge threat all game, takes the ball into the Irish 22 in an attack that eventually ends with England earning a scrum in their opponents’ 22.

63 minutes - England have made a number of changes including a totally new front row.

Looks like they think they have this game more or less won at this stage.

64 minutes - Niamh Briggs kicks into touch to temporarily at least end this period of English pressure.

The game is then stopped for a water break, with Ireland knowing that this game is all but over.

66 minutes - Worrying scenes, as Lynne Cantwell takes a blow to the head as she tackles Emily Scarratt.

She is eventually up on her feet thankfully, but she’ll play no further part in this game, as Hannah Casey comes on in her place.

67 minutes - England’s Laura Keates has now taken another blow to the head. Again, she seems to be alright, though she’ll be taken off ostensibly as a precautionary measure.

Ireland have only pride to play for now with just over 10 minutes remaining.


England 33-7 Ireland (Packer)

Marlie Packer shrugs off at least three attempted tackles to power over the line to provide the icing on the cake for England. Replacement Ceri Large then makes no mistake with the conversion.

72 minutes - Laura Guest is on for Sophie Spence as this game approaches its conclusion.


England 40-7 Ireland (Packer 73)

Marlie Packer gets another try — England’s fifth in total — after a clever chip through from Rachael Burford. Ceri Large again slots over the simple conversion.

It’s turning into a sad end for what has been an incredible tournament for Ireland.

Jenny Murphy is down for Ireland, though she seems to be alright after receiving treatment.

Ireland will need their players fit, as they still have one more game to play — the third-place playoff against the losers of tonight’s France-Canada match.

79 minutes - Some good attack play by Ireland as Hannah Casey makes a break just outside the English 22.

They eventually win a penalty, but they take it quickly and knock on.


Right that’s all from me.

Commiserations to the Irish players and fans, thanks for reading and commenting, and we’ll have much more reaction coming up on the site very shortly.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy