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England defeat Canada to win #WRWC2014

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irb.com     18 Aug 2014     Getty Images

Hosts France overcame Ireland 25-18 to finish third, while four-time champions New Zealand ran riot against the USA and Australia beat Wales to secure fifth and seventh place. Spain overcame South Africa for ninth place and Samoa picked up their first win to condemn Kazakhstan to 12th place.

The two sides had met in the pool stages with a 13-13 draw securing their places in the last four, but England's greater experience – many of the players having been involved in one or more of the last three final defeats to New Zealand – gave them the favourites tag for many.

England and Canada both emerged with the intention of playing running rugby despite the prize at stake, much to the delight of the crowd. Both sides created early chances but it was an Emily Scarratt penalty that handed six-time finalists England the lead.

It could have been better for England but for some great defence from Canada captain Kelly Russell and her fellow back row Karen Paquin, who hauled down wing Kat Merchant in full flight. Natasha Hunt was ruled held up and then Marlie Packer came close with another barnstorming run, but all England had to show for these efforts was a second Scarratt penalty.

The try eventually came just after the half hour, England keeping the ball alive to work an overlap on the right, Maggie Alphonsi sending full back Danielle Waterman, starting her third WRWC final, over in the right corner to the delight of the England contingent in the crowd. Canada, though, had the final say of the half with Magali Harvey’s penalty making it 11-3 at the break.

Canada emerged from the tunnel with renewed vigour and grew in confidence with every passing minute, wrestling the upper hand in the scrum from England and forcing penalties. They cut the deficit to two points through two Harvey penalties, the last just creeping over the bar. Canada’s tails were up but they instantly conceded a penalty to allow Scarratt to restore the five-point cushion after an hour.

The score remained that way into the last six minutes despite the best endeavours of both sides, but then Scarratt glided through the defence to ease England nerves, the centre shrugging off the tackle of Mandy Marchak to touch down for the decisive score. She converted her own try to push England out to 21-9 but, despite needing two scores, Canada fought vainly until the final whistle.

"All credit to Canada, they were fantastic today, but this group of girls and this group of staff deserve everything that we have got because we have worked so hard for this," said jubilant England captain Katy Mclean. "So many great legends that have gone before us haven’t won (a World Cup) in an England shirt and that was for all of them that were here today and for all of the England rugby family."

Canada captain Kelly Russell said: "A big physical game from both sides, I am so proud of the girls, they put everything they had into it, a lot of heart all round. Credit to England they were the better team today."