England bring greater focus to Canada test after Kiwis’ reverse blows cup wide open

England admit tournament is wide open after Ireland beat New Zealand

England head into their final pool game of the Women’s World Cup determined to focus on their toughest challenge so far despite Ireland’s surprise defeat of favourites New Zealand which sent shockwaves through the tournament earlier this week.

New Zealand’s 14-17 defeat on Tuesday, their first World Cup reverse for 23 years, gave hope to the other nations that the Black Ferns’ recent dominance – they have won the last four finals – might finally be coming to an end.

However, while acknowledging the importance of that result, the England captain, Sarah Hunter, said her side must only have their minds on dangerous Pool A opponents Canada in Marcoussis, just south of Paris, today.

“We are very much focused on ourselves and not trying to get drawn too much into other teams, but I think everyone will look at that result and think that the tournament is wide open now,” said Hunter who will revert to No 8 today after playing at flanker in Tuesday’s 45-5 win over Spain.

“I think Ireland beating New Zealand has given all the teams confidence that they are not as unbeatable as they once were. It shows how the women’s game has progressed over the last four years and everyone thought there were a few teams coming into the tournament who could win it. The top seven teams in the world are so close now, which is good for the sport.”

And one of those top-seven teams, Canada, will present a stern test today after beating England twice on their way to winning the Nations Cup tournament in 2013, although Hunter’s side got their revenge in the autumn internationals later that year.

“They have some very strong-running forwards and their captain and No 8, Kelly Russell, is a very dynamic player,” said Hunter. “One of their biggest threats is probably the wing Magali Harvey, who has scored in both games so far. She’ll cause us problems if we don’t handle her well.”

England have had their own wing problems this week with Lydia Thompson being forced to fly home after suffering a groin injury during training in the build-up to the Canada game. She has been replaced in the squad by Richmond’s Natasha Brennan.

England’s head coach, Gary Street, has once again rotated his side, with Katherine Merchant returning on the wing after being rested against Spain and Natasha Hunt back at scrum-half. Both players scored two tries in England’s opening 65-3 demolition of Samoa.

Katy Mclean, who captained the side against Samoa but sat out the next game, is again on the bench, with Ceri Large keeping the fly-half position after an impressive showing against Spain.

Street, whose side top Pool A, said: “Playing Canada is another step up – the games are getting harder. Canada are hugely physical, quick, strong and powerful, but we have got that too. This is a challenge we are relishing.”

Elsewhere, in Pool B New Zealand will be looking to get their campaign back on track against the United States while Ireland should notch up another win, over Kazakhstan. In Pool C, Wales, already beaten by France and Australia, are likely again to find the going tough against South Africa.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower