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England March Into World Cup Semis After Beating Australia

REUTERS/David Rowland

Tournament favourites England advanced to the semi-finals of the women’s Rugby World Cup on Sunday with Marlie Packer scoring a hat trick as her side powered through heavy rain to hand Australia a 41-5 drubbing at Auckland’s Waitakere Stadium.

The two-time champions, who have never failed to reach the World Cup semi-finals, extended their record winning run to 29 consecutive victories and will face either the United States or Canada in the last four clash at Eden Park next Saturday.

Hosts New Zealand, the last team to defeat the English back in 2019, will take on France in the other semi-final.

“We’ve spoken all week about trying to get a good start and we’re used to these conditions back out in England, and it showed,” said England captain Sarah Hunter.

“We can adapt and still play rugby. I’m really proud of the way the girls attacked this game. It’s easy when you see it pouring down to shy away but the whole group fronted up.

“We’re in knockout rugby and that’s the sort of performance you want.”

Hunter celebrated becoming the most capped woman in test rugby by giving her side the lead eight minutes into her 138th appearance as a huge shove took the English over the line.

A yellow card for Australia’s captain Shannon Parry 20 minutes later was punished by the English, with Parker capitalising on the strength of her pack to score a pair of tries while the opposition was short-handed as Simon Middleton’s side opened up a 19-0 lead.

That advantage was reduced late in the half when Emily Chancellor completed a flowing move from right to left to score an unconverted try for Australia, but Abbie Ward’s pick-and-go score three minutes into the second half restored England’s 19-point lead.

Packer fed Amy Cokayne to further add to her side’s tally and Alex Matthews bulldozed over the line 15 minutes from time before Packer completed her hat-trick with seconds left in the game.

“We love to win but that wasn’t the case today,” Australia’s Sharni Williams.

“We did absorb a lot of pressure, we knew England were going to come our firing and that’s what they did. That first half we should be proud of our efforts, but obviously we couldn’t hold on for that 80 minutes.”

Reuters

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