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Rugby: England hammer Ireland to reach women's World Cup final

England withstood an early Irish firestorm to record a comfortable 40-7 victory in the semi-finals of the women's Rugby World Cup on Wednesday (Aug 13).

PARIS: England withstood an early Irish firestorm to record a comfortable 40-7 victory in the semi-finals of the women's Rugby World Cup on Wednesday (Aug 13).

The English, for whom goal-kicking centre Emily Scarratt was outstanding, will play the winners of Wednesday's second semi-final between France and Canada at Stade Jean Bouin, Paris on Sunday.

It was all Ireland early on. The shock pool victors over four-time defending champions New Zealand dominated the opening 15 minutes, well marshalled by playmaker Nora Stapleton and with lock Sophie Spence to the fore.

Going through the phases, that pressure paid off from a line-out close to the England line, a rolling maul crashing over the line and scrum-half Tania Rosser credited with the try. Niamh Briggs got the extras.

England hit back after a similar period of play, this time with Ireland on the back foot, veteran prop Rochelle Clark driving over for a try, the conversion missed by Scarratt. Scarratt made up for that miss with a 33rd-minute penalty after the Irish scum collapsed.

After a botched Irish restart, the centre made a searing 50-metre break down the left. From the resulting ruck Maggie Alphonsi was held up but then the ball was spun wide and Katherine Merchant outpaced Alison Miller for a try in the corner.

The impressive Scarratt landed the tricky conversion and after another barnstorming break of her own kicked a second penalty after an Irish ruck infringement to hand England a 18-7 lead at half-time. That was increased as Scarratt booted her third penalty after Claire Molloy strayed offside.

With the Irish scrum wilting, Kay Wilson was next to cross. In one-way traffic replacement Marlie Packer bagged a late brace, both converted by Ceri Large.

England, beaten finalists in the last three World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010), will regroup for Sunday's final confident of repeating their sole success, in 1994 when New Zealand did not take part.