James Crombie/INPHO
Late Late Show

Job done for England but late USA onslaught puts them in pole position for fourth semi spot

The game finished 47-26 at Billings Park, with all eyes on this evening’s Pool C decider between Ireland and France.

England 47

USA 26

Emma Duffy reports from Billings Park, UCD

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS ENGLAND had enough done to march into the Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-final stages, but a late onslaught and bonus point try for USA means that they’re in pole position for the best runners-up slot.

Kris Thomas’ late try could be crucial in deciding the best second place-finisher to qualify, with all eyes on the Pool C decider this evening. Only an Ireland win can oust the Eagles from their position as fourth seed, a losing bonus point would make Les Bleus the best runners-up even if they fall to the hosts.

Going into the all-important Pool B decider, both England and USA were two from two, each having comfortably dispatched Spain and Italy. It was hard to look past the Red Roses though, the defending champions and the only full-time outfit in the tournament.

After a shaky opening few minutes from both sides, the reigning champions started to mould more and more into the game, mustering up some promising attacking play.

Five minutes in though, vice-captain Emily Scarratt blasted a penalty from right under the posts wide, and it looked like this mightn’t be as straight-forward as Simon Middleton’s side had thought.

Emily Scarratt scores her sides opening try despite the efforts of Cheta Emba James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Scarratt soon redeemed her nervy start however, as she raced onto the end of a great kick from Katy Mclean through the gap and into the area. She outpaced Cheta Emba, doing just enough to clinch her side’s first try and made no mistake from the tee on second asking.

England settled into the game more and more as the minutes passed, playing some beautiful and relaxed rugby. Their next points on the board came courtesy of a textbook driving maul — USA prop Katy Augustyn was the player to pull it down, referee Joy Neville subsequently dishing out a yellow card and awarding a penalty try.

Marlie Packer then expertly landed two tries in six minutes as the number one ranked side in the world really started to enjoy the pool decider. On both occasions, England’s powerful pack pulled off impressive driving mauls and Packer had the final say, with Scarratt glossing over the extras.

With rings of ‘USA, USA’ around the grounds, the Eagles started to grow in confidence and soon found a way to cancel out some of the unanswered 28 points. Off the back of a five-metre scrum, Kate Zackary charged over the line for their opening try, while Alev Ketler made it seven with the subsequent kick.

England's players celebrate with try scorer Katy Mclean James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

The USA momentum was soon nipped at the bud however, as Katy Mclean continued her outstanding form, blazing through to land her first of the day as the clock ran down to the interval.

On the restart, it was as you were.

England continued to flex their considerable muscle from the word go, Amy Wilson Hardy the next to ground a try as Scarratt cancelled out her preceding missed conversion with a successful one.

It looked like this was just going to turn into a numbers game as the Red Roses’ driving maul prospered again, Amy Cokayne recording her side’s seventh.

But USA’s never-say-die attitude shone through, as the crowd got behind them. Starved of possession for much of the game, they took full advantage of a promising attack led by Naya Tapper and Cheta Emba, Emba crossing to finish.

Deven Owsiany and Kimber Rozier Tackle Amber Reed James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

A moment of individual brilliance then saw Naya Elena Tapper claw another back for her side, weaving her way towards the whitewash to the delight of the fans. “We want another one, just like the other one,” they roared, as Kelter nailed the conversiom.

Pete Steinberg’s side continued to show glimmers of brilliance throughout the remainder of the second half, as they pushed hard for the bonus point try.

It came just as the clock struck eighty, Kris Thomas using her speed to burn to cross, and Kimber Rozier adding the conversion.

England had their job done by that stage though, finishing top of the pool and marching on to the semi-final stages.

Naya Tapper celebrates her try with Deven Owsiany James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

In today’s second Pool B clash, Spain beat Italy 22-8. There was nothing to separate the sides at the break but three tries from a Patricia Gracia-inspired Spain were the difference. Sara Barattin was the sole Azzurri try-scorer.

England scorers:
Tries: Emily Scarratt, Penalty try, Marlie Packer [x2], Katy Mclean, Amy Wilson-Hardy, Amy Cokayne
Conversions: Emily Scarratt [5/6]
USA scorers:
Tries: Kate Zackary, Cheta Emba, Naya Elena Tapper, Kris Thomas
Conversions: Alev Kelter [2/3], Kimber Rozier [1/1]

ENGLAND: 15, Danielle Waterman, 14. Amy Wilson-Hardy, 13. Emily Scarratt, 12. Amber Reed, 11. Kay Wilson, 10. Katy Mclean, 9. Natasha Hunt; 1. Vickii Cornborough, 2. Amy Cokayne, 3. Sarah Bern, 4. Abbie Scott, 5. Tamara Taylor, 6. Alex Matthews, 7. Marlie Packer, 8. Sarah Hunter (captain).

Replacements: 16. Vicki Fleetwood, 17. Rochelle Clark, 18. Justine Lucas, 19. Poppy Cleall, 20. Harriet Millar-Mills, 21. Leanne Riley, 22. Rachael Burford, 23. Megan Jones.

USA: 15, Cheta Emba, 14. Naya Elena Tapper, 13. Nicole Heavirland, 12. Alex Kelter, 11. Kris Thomas, 10. Kimber Rozier, 9. Deven Owsiany ; 1. Catherine Benson, 2. Kathryn Augustyn, 3. Tiffany Faaee (captain), 4. Stacey Bridges, 5. Alycia Washington, 6. Sara Parsons, 7. Kate Zackary, 8. Jordan Gray.

Replacements: 16. Sam Pankey, 17. Hope Rogers, 18. Nicole James, 19. Abby Gustaitis, 20. Kristine Sommer, 21. Kayla Cannett, 22. Sylvia Braaten, 23. Jess Wooden.

Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland).

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