England triumph in World Cup final
August 17, 2014
Hunter: it doesn't feel real
Tries from Danielle Waterman and Emily Scarratt saw England clinch the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup as they defeated Canada 21-9 in the final at Stade Jean-Bouin.
Scarratt finished the game with a haul of 16 points as her deadly kicking from the tee kept the scoreboard ticking over and with Canada threatening a comeback in the final stages of the game, it was her try that saw the game go beyond Canada's reach. It was a hard-fought encounter with both teams' handling let them down on occasions but England took their chances when they were on offer.
For England, Maggie Alphonsi was superb throughout at openside in what was her final international match. She is no stranger to World Cup finals with Sunday's occasion her third but it was the first time she was on the triumphant side. It was England's fourth World Cup final on the bounce but they lost their previous three to New Zealand with the last coming in 2010. But Sunday's heroics from England saw them emulate the 1994 side who won the tournament against the USA in Edinburgh.
England were favourites heading into the game and they made two changes to the side that beat Ireland in the semi-final with Marlie Packer and Natasha Hunt starting in a team which featured 11 of the 15 that god the nod in the 2010 final. For Canada, they too made two changes with Elissa Alarie and Jessica Dovanne getting the nod.
Danielle Waterman goes over for England's first try © Getty Images
It was England who drew first blood when Hunt's break teed up a penalty chance for Scarratt and she made easy work of it putting her side 3-0 in front. And England soon had two chances to grab the first try of the game but sterling work from Canada openside Karen Paquin prevented England from chalking up the first score. First, Paquin brought down Kat Merchant when she was sprinting towards the try line and then prevented Hunt from dotting the ball down when she quick-tapped a free-kick and was held up agonisingly short of the line.
But England did not have to wait long to add to their three-point tally when Scarratt added her second penalty of the game after 24 minutes when Canada were penalised for tackling Hunt before she got her hands on the ball at the back of the scrum. England were continuing to dominate the set piece and eventually they got their reward when quick ball through the hands, including a neat show and go from Tamara Taylor, saw Waterman over in the corner.
Scarratt's conversion failed to hit its target and Canada started to find some momentum towards the end of the half. Their outside centre Mandy Marchak made a promising break as the clock ticked towards the 40th minute and Packer was penalised for being offside allowing Magali Harvey to narrow the deficit to eight points at the break.
Canada started the second 40 in a similar vein with Harvey punishing English ill-discipline to narrow the deficit to six points with her second penalty of the game. The tension of the occasion was starting to get to both sides and handling errors started to creep in sapping the tempo of the game but while the ball was being dropped, Canada were starting to get the nudge in the scrum and their dominance in that area helped them put the pressure on and draw another chance for Harvey to knock over three points. The kick was at the end of her range but the ball crept over the crossbar and the match was a two-point game.
But to the Canada management's dismay, they conceded a penalty off the restart and Scarratt knocked it over with ease. The momentum of the game was shifting between the two sides with abandon. Canada were trying to get Harvey on the ball as much as possible, understandably after her remarkable try in the semi-final, but neither side could get the accuracy to put together enough phases to cause any damage.
As the legs started to tire, it was going to come down to a moment of individual magic and Scarratt provided that for England as she brushed off weak Canada tackles to go over and with her conversion, England had a 12-point lead with just five minutes left on the clock. Canada did their best to get some more points on the board but as the clock ticked down, it was England who were left to celebrate becoming world champions.
England celebrate their World Cup final triumph © Getty Images
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Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
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