World Cup quarterfinals - team and predictions
PREVIEW: On Sunday, Australia will become the latest team to attempt to end England’s record-winning run when they meet at Waitakere Stadium in Auckland.
Before that, there are two quarterfinal clashes on Saturday – fourth seeds France against fifth seeds Italy and second seeds New Zealand against ninth seeds Wales, both at the Northland Events Centre, in Whangarei.
The weekend’s final quarterfinal is a repeat of last Sunday’s Pool B match between the North American rivals, Canada and the United States.
However, it is favourites England that will attract most of the attention.
The Red Roses have won their last 28 matches and head into the World Cup quarterfinals with a 7.21 rating point lead at the top of the World Rugby Women’s Rankings.
England has triumphed on each of the five occasions they have played the Wallaroos, including a 15-0 victory in the World Cup 2010 semifinals.
Australia’s World Cup squad boasts three survivors from that match, Ilaseva Batibasaga, captain Shannon Parry and Sharni Williams, while England star Emily Scarratt also played in the match.
The Wallaroos head into the quarterfinals on the back of successive victories over Scotland and Wales. They will take heart from the relative success they earned up front against the latter.
However, they will need to be at their absolute best against England, who scored 28 tries – more than any other team – to beat Fiji, France and South Africa, and top Pool C.
Whoever comes out on top on Sunday will take on Canada or the United States, who contest the second quarterfinal at Waitakere Stadium, at Eden Park on November 5.
* Meanwhile, Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith believes his team has an opportunity to match Wales physically when they meet in the Rugby World Cup 2021 quarterfinals at Whangārei’s Northland Events Centre on Saturday.
The hosts beat Wales 56-12 in the pool phase, but their opponents kept them scoreless for the opening 17 minutes in Auckland and caused them problems up front throughout.
Smith has made six personnel changes to the side that beat Scotland 57-0 last weekend, while seven of Saturday’s line-up also started the first match against Wales.
“It’s about the attitude to play well against Wales because to be fair, they’ve bumped us physically in that first game that we played them. We’ve got a bit of ground to make up,” Smith said.
“This is an opportunity for our women to show that we can match them. I’m all about you getting the attitude right. When the boot’s on, you switch on, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Stacey Fluhler returns to the Black Ferns midfield for the quarterfinal, while co-captain Kennedy Simon is named on the replacements’ bench having missed the pool phase through injury.
Smith described Simon as the “most innovative captain I’ve been involved with” due to the work she has done to help her teammates while sidelined, and the back-row cannot wait to be back on the pitch at Northland Events Centre.
“I’m extremely excited,” she said.
“I’m really grateful to still be here and have the faith of my team and my coaches to allow me to take the opportunity to put my feet out on the park and put the black jersey on.”
Wales coach Ioan Cunningham has made four personnel changes from the defeat to Australia, as Carys Phillips, Donna Rose, Keira Bevan and Lowri Norkett come into the side. Jasmine Joyce, meanwhile, switches to full-back.
“What an opportunity,” he said. “We’ve just got to leave everything out there. No regrets, just go for it – things can happen.”
Familiar foes face off
* France captain Gaëlle Hermet has backed her side to rise to the occasion when they take on Italy in the weekend’s opening quarterfinal in Whangārei.
Italy created history last weekend, beating Japan to become the first Italian side, male or female, to reach a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal.
Their prize is a first tournament meeting with Les Bleues, who they have already played three times this year and beat in their final World Cup warm-up match.
Italy has never recorded back-to-back victories against France and could become only the second team to prevent Les Bleues from reaching the semifinals of a women’s Rugby World Cup, emulating Canada at World Cup 1998.
Hermet, though, describes the knockout phase as a “second competition” and says France is determined to reach an eighth Rugby World Cup semifinal.
“It’s a little bit of a thrill,” she said. “We are just eager to be on the field, to be able to play because we know it’s a special game. It’s a game with a lot at stake where it’s either you pass or it breaks down.
“We’re entering the final stages but we don’t want to add the extra pressure of the final stages.
“But we want to galvanise ourselves a little bit by saying that it promises to be a big game… we really want to be focused at 200 per cent.”
France coach Thomas Darracq has made eight personnel changes to the side that beat Fiji 44-0 last Saturday, while Caroline Drouin shifts back to flyhalf from centre.
Italy will be without second row forward Sara Tounesi for the rest of the World Cup after she received a 12-match ban for a biting incident during the defeat of Japan.
Valeria Fedrighi replaces Tounesi while Lucia Gai, Isabella Locatelli and Sofia Stefan have also been drafted into the starting line-up. The Azzurre bench has been boosted by the return of Manuela Furlan, who injured her knee in a 21-0 defeat to Les Bleues last month.
“For me, France is really challenging, because they have different attacking options,” Italy coach Andrea Di Giandomenico said.
“We know France wants to win this Rugby World Cup. In every competition France plays, they play to win. There’s nothing to lose for us, we will just enjoy the moment.”
* The weekend’s final quarterfinal is a repeat of last Sunday’s Pool B match between the North American rivals, which Canada won 29-14 to qualify for the knockout phase with a perfect record.
Canada has won the last six meetings between the sides, dating back to 2019, and will be confident of securing a return to the semifinals for the first time since World Cup 2014, when they were beaten in the final by England.
All the weekend’s teams and predictions follow below …
Saturday, October 29
France v Italy
(Northland Events Centre, Whangārei – Kick-off: 16:30; 05.30 France & Italy time; 03.30 GMT)
@rugby365com: France by 14 points
France: 15 Emilie Boulard, 14 Joanna Grisez, 13 Maëlan Filopon, 12 Gabrielle Vernier, 11 Marine Menager, 10 Caroline Drouin, 9 Pauline Bourdon, 8 Charlotte Escudero, 7 Marjorie Mayans, 6 Gaelle Hermet, 5 Madoussou Fall, 4 Celine Ferer, 3 Clara Joyeux, 2 Agathe Sochat, 1 Annaelle Deshaye.
Replacements: 16 Laure Touye, 17 Coco Lindelauf, 18 Assia Khalfaoui, 19 Safi N’Diaye, 20 Emeline Gros, 21 Alexandra Chambon, 22 Lina Queyroi, 23
Italy: 15 Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi, 14 Aura Muzzo, 13 Michela Sillari, 12 Beatrice Rigoni, 11 Maria Magatti, 10 Veronica Madia, 9 Sofia Stefan, 8 Elisa Giordano, 7 Isabella Locatelli, 6 Francesca Sgorbini, 5 Giordana Duca, 4 Valeria Fedrighi, 3 Lucia Gai, 2 Melissa Bettoni, 1 Silvia Turani.
Replacements: 16 Vittoria Vecchini, 17 Gaia Maris, 18 Sara Seye, 19 Michela Merlo, 20 Beatrice Veronese, 21 Sara Barattin, 22 Alyssa D’Inca, 23 Manuela Furlan.
Referee: Hollie Davidson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Amber McLachlan (Australia), Tyler Miller (Australia)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
New Zealand v Wales
(Northland Events Centre, Whangārei – Kick-off: 19.30; 07.30 Wales time; 06.30 GMT)
@rugby365com: New Zealand by 38 points
New Zealand: 15 Ruby Tui, 14 Portia Woodman, 13 Stacey Fluhler, 12 Theresa Fitzpatrick, 11 Ayesha Leti-l’iga, 10 Ruahei Demant (captain), 9 Kendra Cocksedge, 8 Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Sarah Hirini, 6 Alana Bremner, 5 Chelsea Bremner, 4 Maiakawanakaulani Roos, 3 Amy Rule, 2 Georgia Ponsonby, 1 Phillipa Love.
Replacements: 16 Luka Connor, 17 Krystal Murray, 18 Santo Taumata, 19 Joanah Ngan-Woo, 20 Kennedy Simon, 21 Ariana Bayler, 22 Hazel Tubic, 23 Renee Holmes.
Wales: 15 Jasmine Joyce, 14 Lowri Norkett, 13 Carys Williams, 12 Hannah Jones (captain), 11 Lisa Neumann, 10 Elinor Snowsill, 9 Keira Bevan, 8 Sioned Harries, 7 Alex Callender, 6 Beth Lewis, 5 Gwen Crabb, 4 Natalia John, 3 Donna Rose, 2 Carys Phillips, 1 Cara Hope.
Replacements: 16 Kelsey Jones, 17 Gwenllian Pyrs, 18 Sisilia Tuipulotu, 19 Georgia Evans, 20 Siwan Lillicrap, 21 Ffion Lewis, 22 Lleucu George, 23 Megan Webb.
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Aurélie Groizeleau (France), Julianne Zussman (Romania)
TMO: Chris Assmus (Romania)
Sunday, October 30
England v Australia
(Waitakere Stadium, Auckland – Kick-off: 13.30; 11.30 Australian time; 03.30 England time; 00.30 GMT)
@rugby365com: England by 36 points
Australia: 15 Pauline Piliae-Rasabale, 14 Bienne Terita, 13 Georgina Friedrichs, 12 Sharni Williams, 11 Lori Cramer, 10 Arabella McKenzie, 9 Layne Morgan, 8 Grace Hamilton, 7 Shannon Parry (captain), 6 Emily Chancellor, 5 Grace Kemp, 4 Michaela Leonard, 3 Bridie O’Gorman, 2 Adiana Talakai, 1 Liz Patu.
Replacements: 16 Tania Naden, 17 Emily Robinson, 18 Eva Karpani, 19 Sera Naiqama, 20 Piper Duck, 21 Iliseva Batibasaga, 22 Cecilia Smith, 23 Mahalia Murphy.
England: 15 Helena Rowland, 14 Lydia Thompson, 13 Emily Scarratt, 12 Tatyana Heard, 11 Abby Dow, 10 Zoe Harrison, 9 Leanne Infante, 8 Sarah Hunter (captain), 7 Marlie Packer, 6 Alex Matthews, 5 Abbie Ward, 4 Zoe Aldcroft, 3 Sarah Bern, 2 Amy Cokayne, 1 Vickii Cornborough.
Replacements: 16 Lark Davies , 17 Hannah Botterman, 18 Maud Muir, 19 Rosie Galligan, 20 Poppy Cleall, 21 Lucy Packer, 22 Holly Aitchison, 23 Ellie Kildunne.
Referee: Maggie Cogger-Orr (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Lauren Jenner (New Zealand), Kat Roche (Russia)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Canada v United States
(Waitakere Stadium, Auckland – 16.30; 03.30 GMT; 23.30, Saturday, October 29 North American Atlantic Standard Time)
@rugby365com: Canada by 11 points
Canada: 15 Elissa Alarie, 14 Maddy Grant, 13 Alysha Corrigan, 12 Sara Kaljuvee, 11 Paige Farries, 10 Alexandra Tessier, 9 Justine Pelletier, 8 Sophie de Goede, 7 Karen Paquin, 6 Fabiola Forteza, 5 McKinley Hunt, 4 Courtney Holtkamp, 3 DaLeaka Menin, 2 Emily Tuttosi, 1 Olivia DeMerchant.
Replacements: 16 Gillian Boag, 17 Brittany Kassil, 18 Alex Ellis, 19 Ngalula Fuamba, 20 Tyson Beukeboom, 21 Gabrielle Senft, 22 Pamphinette Buisa, 23 Anaïs Holly.
United States: 15 Tess Feury, 14 Jennine Detiveaux, 13 Eti Haungatau, 12 Alev Kelter, 11 Lotte Clapp, 10 Gabriella Cantorna, 9 Carly Waters, 8 Kate Zackary (captain), 7 Rachel Johnson, 6 Kathryn Johnson, 5 Evi Ashenbrucker, 4 Kristine Sommer, 3 Nick James, 2 Joanna Kitlinski, 1 Hope Rogers.
Replacements: 16 Kathryn Treder, 17 Catherine Benson, 18 Charli Jacoby, 19 Jenny Kronish, 20 Bitsy Cairns, 21 Bridget Kahele, 22 Katana Howard, 23 Meya Bizer.
Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sara Cox (England), Clara Munarini (Italy)
TMO: Ian Tempest (England)