- Clark lauds patience and control in win over Ireland
- Prop says side are confident ahead of decider against Canada
A buoyant Rochelle Clark hailed an exceptional team performance in England Women’s 40-7 semi-final defeat of Ireland and is convinced her side can finally exorcise their World Cup demons in Sunday’s final against Canada.
Loosehead prop Clark was a pillar of strength on Wednesday evening at the Stade Jean-Bouin, celebrating her 94th cap as part of a scrum that dominated the Irish pack and laid the platform for a clinical collective display.
Also industrious in the loose, the Worcester veteran shunted over from close range – a “two-inch pick-and-go” – for England’s first try. That reduced Ireland’s early lead and Gary Street’s side were irresistible from then on.
Indeed, Clark suggested the camp was an extremely happy one and an underwhelming 13-13 draw with Canada in the pool stages had been put to bed.
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“I’m buzzing from the result,” she said. “The forwards really took it to them and I’m really pleased with our scrummage.
“We were disappointed with the performance against Canada, so today was about putting that right.
“We fine-tuned our gameplan with a focus was on composure and keeping possession. As forwards, we carried and tackled hard and then the backs found the space.”
England’s patience and structure was all the more impressive for the endeavour of Ireland, who went 7-0 up and defended admirably throughout.
Even so, first-half scores from Clark and Kat Merchant foreshadowed three more after the break – one for wing Kay Wilson with Marlie Packer’s brace finishing things off – with Philip Doyle’s team eventually overrun.
Underlining the squad’s fierce focus, Clark underlined the inspiration behind such a relentless showing and looked ahead to the weekend’s tournament decider against Canada.
They shocked hosts France 18-16, but now face a side driven by consecutive final losses and back to their best.
“Going in at half-time we had a strong lead but we also knew couldn’t rest on our laurels and we had to come out strong again in the second half. In the end, I thought we produced an 80-minute all-round performance.
“Now is definitely the time for us [to win the World Cup]. The buzz in the team is amazing, everybody’s working together and the draw against Canada was a real fuel for us.
“We’re ready to take on the world so let’s do it – one more game.”