Saturday, September 4, 2010

England women chasing final glory

Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 Final
Venue: Twickenham StoopDate: Sun 5 Sept
Kick-off: 1715 BST Coverage: Live on Sky Sports 3; watch highlights on Monday 6 Sept, 1300 BST on BBC 2 and BBC Sport website (UK only)

Catherine Spencer
Spencer scored England's first try in the semi-final against Australia

England captain Catherine Spencer believes her side can end New Zealand's dominance of the women's game when the two meet in Sunday's World Cup final.

The Black Ferns have won the last three World Cups, beating England in the 2002 and 2006 finals.

But the last time they clashed was at Twickenham last November when England clinched a famous 10-3 victory.

"The win in the autumn has provided us with huge confidence and we know we can beat New Zealand," said Spencer.

"We've also stepped up a level each time we've played in this tournament so that has also given us confidence.

"It's brilliant that the final is against New Zealand, the reigning world champions. We've just got to keep performing and take our chances."

This final promises to be a titanic clash between the best two female sides in the world

England head coach Gary Street

England head coach Gary Street has named his team ahead of the final at Twickenham, making four changes to the side that beat Australia 15-0 in the semi-final on Wednesday.

Sophie Hemming returns in the front row in place of Rosemarie Crowley, while Lichfield's Sarah Hunter joins Margaret Alphonsi and Spencer in the back row in place of Heather Fisher, who misses out because of a hand injury.

In the backs, Katherine Merchant comes in on the wing in place of Fiona Pocock, who sustained a knee injury against Australia, while Rachael Burford comes back in at centre, with Alice Richardson dropping to the bench.

Street said: "The World Cup final is a huge challenge, but it's what we've been preparing for, for a long time and we're confident that we can achieve our aim and lift the trophy.

"The pool games have been incredibly tough and physical and a great spectacle for the viewers. However, our unwavering plan of using all 26 squad players has got us to this point fresh and it is a testament to the quality of every player we have.

"Although we have now picked up a couple of injuries, the depth means that we can carry on as normal and shuffle the pack. Heather and Fiona have been a massive part of our success to date and they'll be in our hearts on Sunday."

Spencer believes that their confident display to beat Australia in the semi-final leaves them well-prepared for Sunday's match.


"It was a tough game against Australia that will put us in good stead for the final," said the back row, who crashed over for the opening try.

"It was great to play at the Stoop. The atmosphere was brilliant and I think that will step up again on Sunday so it's very exciting that we'll be there."

England have also defeated Ireland, Kazakhstan and USA en route to the final and head coach Street predicts Sunday's game will be a classic.

"This final promises to be a titanic clash between the best two female sides in the world and I've no doubt that the television audience and the large crowd at the Stoop will be treated to a fantastic game of rugby," said Street, who oversaw the defeat of New Zealand in November, England's first win over the Black Ferns in eight years.

"The squad we have selected is probably the most experienced squad in history even though it is still relatively young.

"We have power up front and great quality in our backline, which means we can play a multi-faceted game. We need to reduce our error count with the ball but keep up our tremendous defensive effort we have showed so far.

"Our job is to complete the dream and pick up the trophy on Sunday evening."

England: Danielle Waterman (Worcester), Charlotte Barras (Saracens), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Rachael Burford (Richmond), Katherine Merchant (Worcester); Katy McLean (Darlington), Amy Turner (Richmond); Rochelle Clark (Northumbria), Amy Garnett (Saracens), Sophie Hemming (Bristol), Tamara Taylor (Darlington), Jo McGilchrist (Wasps), Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), Catherine Spencer (Bristol, capt.)

Replacements: Emma Croker (Richmond), Claire Purdy (Wasps), Becky Essex (Richmond), Sarah Beale (Lichfield), La Toya Mason (Wasps), Alice Richardson (Richmond), Amber Penrith (Worcester)

Potenshöjande medel -

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