England and Canada made easy work of their Women’s Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Auckland on Sunday, ensuring the world’s top-four ranked teams will contest the semi-finals.
In wet conditions, England steamrolled Australia 41-5 before Canada were nearly as dominant in their quarter-final, seeing off the United States 32-11.
The two winners will square off at Eden Park on Saturday, while defending champions New Zealand will face France in the other semi-final after they eased past Wales and Italy respectively.
The final four have been a class above their rivals at the tournament and were barely threatened in the quarter-finals, where the average score across the four games was 42-6.
England retained the favourite’s tag with a power-packed display against the Wallaroos, with all seven tries scored by forwards, including a hat-trick to flanker Marlie Packer.
However, no try sparked greater celebrations than the opener to captain Sarah Hunter, in a game where she became the most-capped women’s Test player.
The veteran No 8 was playing her 138th Test, surpassing the previous record held by former England prop and long-time teammate Rochelle Clark.
“It’s been amazing, I’ve tried not to think about it too much — you don’t know what’s going to happen so I just wanted to get out on the pitch,” Hunter said.
“It’s a really special day and now I can sit back and enjoy it.”
England will be challenged up front by world No 3 Canada, who scored two tries in each half, complemented by 12 points from the boot of captain Sophie de Goede.
De Goede said a team meeting on the eve of the match brought them together, as they reflected on the sacrifices made by many in what is effectively an amateur sport in Canada.
“We spoke a bit about what every person has gone through to get to this point,” she said.
“For every player to come out here and perform the way we did, I’m just so proud of this group.”
The US opened the scoring through a try to hooker Jojo Kitlinski but they failed to cross again as Canada’s superior driving play set up tries to forwards McKinley Hunt and Karen Paquin before halftime, when they led 12-8.
Backs Paige Farries and Alex Tessier made the result safe with tries, as the Canucks beat the US for a record seventh-straight time, a run which included last week’s 29-14 win in group play.
© Agence France-Presse