- Battered Emily Scarratt delighted to prevail in tough Canada contest
- Once again the Lichfield centre was 100 per cent from kicking tee
Emily Scarratt cut a relieved figure after England edged into the Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-finals and said the squad know they must improve their execution to be in contention to lift the trophy.
Bearing the battle scars of a hugely physical, end-to-end contest with Canada, the Lichfield centre’s perfect kicking display was critical in securing the 13-13 draw, which saw both sides progress to the knockout stages.
In contrast Canada kicker Magali Harvey, who sparkled with ball-in-hand and added a late penalty, could not convert either of her side’s tries and ultimately missed the chance to overturn favourites England.
“There were no surprises in what Canada brought,” said Scarratt, who admitted she was feeling “a bit battered”.
“We knew they were going to bring a big, physical element to their game and they did. All credit to them, they’d obviously done their homework, they played fantastically against us. A draw is a draw and to do enough is all we needed, but obviously we’re disappointed in terms of our actual performance.”
England will play Six Nations rivals Ireland in the first semi-final at 5pm BST on Wednesday, with Grand Slam champions France taking on Canada at 7:45pm BST the same evening.
Four-time champions New Zealand, who defeated England in the 2006 and 2010 finals, failed to progress from the group stages to leave the tournament wide open.
Speaking before the match-ups were finalised, Scarratt said: “Whoever it is we know we’re going to have to do our homework, we know we’re going to have to step up our performance, we know we’re going to have to execute better than we have.
“We’re very grateful to be through to the semis. New Zealand will be bitterly disappointed not to be there; they’re a great rugby nation. They’ve been there at the top of the game for so many years now so it just shows how far the women’s game has come. It’s great for women’s rugby but really disappointing for New Zealand.”
With immaculate ball-striking, dead-eye Scarratt converted Sarah Hunter’s try and added two excellent penalties with a 100 per cent kicking success rate for the second game in a row. That accuracy could prove crucial against Kiwi conquerors Ireland and Scarratt is delighted with her form from the tee.
Adding that the support the team is getting is adding a real buzz to the tournament, she said: “I said during the week that kicking is going to get more and more important as those scorelines get much closer.
“I kept getting flashbacks during the game that I was going to have a long-range effort to win it, but it didn’t turn out that way. I’m just very thankful that the three I had the opportunity to take went over.
“We’re really excited to play and the fans are growing and growing. Lots of people I know are coming out for the semis and I think that’s just going to keep increasing the numbers of people watching us. And hopefully the noise comes with that.”