Alison Millers hat trick performance against England in 2013 lives long in the memory. Let's hope she can produce something similar tomorrow!

Alison Millers hat trick performance against England in 2013 lives long in the memory. Let’s hope she can produce something similar tomorrow!

I’m almost giggling in excitement at the thought of this match, two of the form teams in women’s rugby with a large dose of near neighbour rivalry thrown in – it should be a cracker.

A few short years ago Ireland would have been massive underdogs in any fixture involving these two teams but a 25 – 0 Grand Slam win in 2013 and the recent defeat of New Zealand shows that Ireland are the team on the rise and going on current form I would make them marginal favourites in this encounter.

Ireland

15. Niamh Briggs
14. Ashleigh Baxter
13. Lynne Cantwell
12. Grace Davitt
11. Alison Miller
10. Nora Stapleton
9. Tania Rosser
1. Fiona Coghlan
2. Gillian Bourke
3. Ailis Egan
4. Sophie Spence
5. Marie Louise Reilly
6. Paula Fitzpatrick
7. Claire Molloy
8. Heather O’Brien

16. Sharon Lynch
17. Fiona Hayes
18. Siobhan Fleming
19. Laura Guest
20. Larissa Muldoon
21. Jenny Murphy
22. Hannah Casey

Both teams have only lost to each other and France in championship play over the last two seasons, England won the last encounter 17 – 10 in Twickenham back in February but it is the form of the teams in this tournament that fills me with confidence.

Nothing has surprised me about Ireland’s progress, I have, after all, predicted all three wins with amazing accuracy 🙂 and though England coasted through their first two matches, against Samoa and Spain, scoring 110 points and conceding only eight I did predict that they would struggle against an aggressive Canadian side. In fact I’d predicted a Canadian win and I’d thought that it would be Canada that would play Ireland and England would face France.

England

15. Danielle Waterman
14. Katherine Merchant
13. Emily Scarratt
12. Rachael Burford
11. Kay Wilson
10. Katy Mclean
9. La Toya Mason
1. Rochelle Clark
2. Victoria Fleetwood
3. Sophie Hemming
4. Tamara Taylor
5. Joanna McGilchrist
6. Alexandra Matthews
7. Margaret Alphonsi
8. Sarah Hunter

16. Emma Croker
17. Laura Keates
18. Rebecca Essex
19. Marlie Packer
20. Natasha Hunt
21. Ceri Large
22. Claire Allan

However, England held on to top spot in their pool, with a fortunate draw, and I’d guess that Philip Doyle and the rest of the coaching staff are happier to face the familiar  England rather than comparatively unknown Canadians. (Incidentally I’d also predicted at the start of the tournament that Ireland and Canada were the teams to watch, and most likely to break into the top four 🙂 ).

Ireland have had a better run in to this match with tough, grind them out, wins against USA and New Zealand followed by a comparative break against Kazakhstan. Ireland know what their best side is, with the same team starting as the one that started against the Black Ferns, England on the other hand are still trying to find theirs.

It’ll be another close one but Ireland’s growing confidence and their superb game management should win the day – get yourselves ready for a France v Ireland final! #COYGIG.