Thursday is decision day at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 as the four semi-final places are up for grabs. There are top of the table clashes in all three pools – Canada and New Zealand are set for a high-noon shootout, England and the USA follow them at Billings Park, and match day 3 will come to a big crescendo when Ireland and France collide under the UCD Bowl floodlights.
2017 WOMEN’S RUGBY WORLD CUP – MATCH DAY 3: Thursday, August 17
POOL A –
CANADA (2nd) v NEW ZEALAND (1st), Billings Park, 12pm
For Canada’s all-important Pool A showdown with New Zealand, head coach Francois Ratier has made two changes to the starting line-up – both of them behind the scrum – as the world’s third and second-ranked sides face off in Dublin.
Making her first start in this year’s World Cup will be centre Amanda Thornborough, who comes in for Andrea Burk, while vice-captain Elissa Alarie moves back to full-back and Julianne Zussman slots in on the left wing.
The other four positions amongst the backs remain unchanged, with Lori Josephson getting her third straight start at half-back alongside Emily Belchos. Alex Tessier continues in midfield, and Magali Harvey, who leads the WRWC 2017 scoring charts with 51 points, will once again patrol the right wing.
Ratier’s pack is unchanged, with Carolyn McEwan, Laura Russell and DaLeaka Menin making up the front row, while Kayla Mack and Latoya Blackwood combine again in the engine room. The back row trio of Jacey Grusnick, Karen Paquin and captain Kelly Russell round out what has been an impressive forwards unit through Canada’s first two outings.
Canada and New Zealand have become familiar foes in recent years, yet the Canadians are still looking for their first ever victory over the Black Ferns. The Kiwis are 13-0 in Test meetings with Canada, including last November’s 20-10 victory at Donnybrook and June’s 28-16 International Series success in Wellington.
Meanwhile, captain Fiao’o Faamausili will become the most-capped Black Fern ever when she leads her New Zealand side in their third and final pool game in Dublin. It will be a record 50th cap for the Auckland hooker, while scrum half Kendra Cocksedge hits the 40-cap mark and lock Eloise Blackwell will make her 30th appearance.
Black Ferns boss Glenn Moore has made eight personnel changes from the facile 121-0 win over pool minnows Hong Kong last Sunday. Blackwell, props Toka Natua and Aldora Itunu, and number 8 Aroha Savage, all return up front, while the selection of Selica Winiata, Stacey Waaka, Kelly Brazier and Renee Wickliffe will sees the same back-line from the Wales game line out.
Moore says this will be crucial match for the Black Ferns with places in the semi-finals on the line. “Whoever wins this game probably wins the pool. We need to win it and ultimately, we’d like to win it with a bonus point,” he said.
Commenting on the 19-try defeat of Hong Kong (eight of which were run in by winger Portia Woodman), Moore explained: “The Hong Kong match was critical for us to score a good tally of points and have none scored against us. It will stand us in good stead if points differentials need to be calculated. Everyone is very buoyant and excited.
Paying tribute to his captain, he added: “This will be a very memorable day for Fiao’o, reaching a 50th cap while at a World Cup is extremely special. It’s a real testament to Fiao’o’s leadership. As captain she puts the team before everything. It will be a very proud day for the entire Black Ferns family and for rugby.”
CANADA: Elissa Alarie (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC); Magali Harvey (Club de Rugby de Quebec), Alex Tessier (Montreal Barbarians), Amanda Thornborough (Westshore RFC), Julianne Zussman (Castaway Wanderers); Emily Belchos (Westshore RFC), Lori Josephson (Aurora Barbarians); Carolyn McEwen (Burnaby Lake RFC), Laura Russell (Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC), DaLeaka Menin (Calgary Hornets), Kayla Mack (Saskatoon Wild Oats), Latoya Blackwood (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC), Jacey Grusnick (Barrhaven Scottish), Karen Paquin (Club de Rugby de Quebec/Castaway Wanderers), Kelly Russell (Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC) (capt).
Replacements: Jane Kirby (Highland Fergus Rugby Club), Brittany Kassil (Guelph Redcoats), Olivia DeMerchant (Woodstock Wildmen/Castaway Wanderers), Tyson Beukeboom (Aurora Barbarians/Cowichan RFC), Barbara Mervin (Westshore RFC), Chelsea Guthrie (Stratchona Druids), Andrea Burk (Capilano RFC), Brittany Waters (Meraloma Athletic Club/Castaway Wanderers).
NEW ZEALAND: Selica Winiata (Manawatu); Portia Woodman (Counties Manukau), Stacey Waaka (Waikato), Kelly Brazier (Otago), Renee Wickliffe (Counties Manukau); Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali (Counties Manukau), Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury); Toka Natua (Waikato), Fiao’o Fa’amausili (Auckland) (capt), Aldora Itunu (Auckland), Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Charmaine Smith (North Harbour), Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland), Sarah Goss (Manawatu), Aroha Savage (Counties Manukau).
Replacements: Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (Counties Manukau), Sosoli Talawadua (Waikato), Aotearoa Mata’u (Counties Manukau), Rebecca Wood (North Harbour), Linda Itunu (Auckland), Kristina Sue (Manawatu), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Auckland), Carla Hohepa (Waikato).
Referee: Alhambra Nievas (Spain)
WALES (3rd) v HONG KONG (4th), UCD Bowl, 5.15pm
17-year-old starlet Lleucu George will make her first start for Wales in Thursday’s final Pool A match against Hong Kong at the UCD Bowl. George, who won her first cap off the bench against New Zealand last week, will start on the blindside as part of nine changes to the Welsh side that lost 15-0 to Canada.
Full-back Jodie Evans and centre Robyn Wilkins make their first starts of the 2017 World Cup, while the jet-heeled Jasmine Joyce and Keira Bevan return on the right wing and at scrum half respectively.
Two changes to the front row see loosehead Cerys Hale and tighthead Meg York pack down either side of captain Carys Phillips. Lock Siwan Lillicrap also makes her first start of WRWC 2017, likewise the strong-carrying Shona Powell-Hughes, who joins George in the back row at number 8.
“We’ve surpassed many people’s expectations in terms of our performances against two of the world’s best teams, but we’re always looking to improve standards,” said head coach Rowland Phillips. “We’re not content with just putting up a fight. We’re working towards winning big games.
“Our commitment and improvement was there for everyone to see against Canada. We pushed a very good team all the way, and we’ve got to take inspiration from that. The main thing now is to keep up that momentum in this competition, starting with Hong Kong. They will be out to prove a point against us, and we won’t be taking them lightly.”
Loosehead Gwenllian Pyrs could make her Wales debut from the bench in Thursday’s encounter, which will be streamed live on the S4C website (plus the S4C Chwaraeon Facebook page) and, for the first time in the tournament, the Wales Women will be shown live on ITV 4.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong head coach Jo Hull has also rung the changes as her charges look to bounce back from two very heavy defeats during which they conceded 219 unanswered points.
Only eight players are retained in the starting line-up, among them the tournament’s oldest player in number 8 Christine Gordon (39), captain Chow Mei-nam and the centre pairing of teenager Kelsie Bouttle and Natasha Olson-Thorne.
Half-backs Mak Ho-yee and Rose Hopewell-Fong are tasked with directing play for the hard-working Asian outfit, and vice-captain Adrienne Garvey, who occupied a centre berth against Canada in the first round, will take on the full-back role this time around.
Hull said: “It would be nice to get some points on the board, but to do that we have got to get our handling right, we’ve got to get our ball skills right and we have got to get our breakdown skills right. We want to see some attack against Wales.
“Obviously against New Zealand we were strangled in pretty much every area, so against Wales we are just trying to make sure when we have got the ball, we are executing. This Welsh team have significantly improved over the last six months since the Six Nations. They’re very rugby smart and we know we are in for another very, very tough day at the office.”
WALES: Jodie Evans (Scarlets); Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets), Gemma Rowland (Dragons), Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys), Jess Kavanagh-Williams (RGC); Elinor Snowsill (Dragons), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Cerys Hale (Dragons), Carys Phillips (Ospreys) (capt), Meg York (Dragons), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Sioned Harries (Scarlets), Shona Powell-Hughes (Ospreys).
Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC), Caryl Thomas (Scarlets), Rebecca Rowe (Blues), Rachel Taylor (RGC), Sian Moore (Dragons), Elen Evans (RGC), Dyddgu Hywel (Scarlets).
HONG KONG: Adrienne Garvey (Valley); Lau Sze-wa (Valley), Natasha Olson-Thorne (USRC Tigers), Kelsie Bouttle (Valley/ICHK), Chong Ka-yan (Gai Wu); Rose Hopewell-Fong Siu-lan (HKFC), Chloe Mak Ho-yee (Kowloon); Lau Nga-wun (Gai Wu), Royce Chan Leong-sze (HKFC), Lee Ka-shun (Gai Wu), Chow Mei-nam (Gai Wu) (capt), Chan Ka-yan (Gai Wu), Christy Cheng Ka-chi (Gai Wu), Chan Tsz-ching (Tai Po Dragons/HKBU), Christine Gordon (Kowloon).
Replacements: Pun Wai-yan (Gai Wu/EdUHK), Wong Yuen-shan (USRC Tigers/EdUHK), Karen So Hoi-ting (Valley), Amelie Seure (Valley), Tsang Sin-yan (Kowloon), Jessica Ho Wai-on (USRC Tigers), Lee Tsz-ting (Gai Wu/HKBU), Kwong Sau-yan (Tai Po Dragons).
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
POOL B –
ENGLAND (1st) v USA (2nd), Billings Park, 2.30pm
England head coach Simon Middleton has made six changes for their Pool B decider against USA at Billings Park UCD. Both teams have beaten Spain and Italy so far, with the winners of this tie sealing top spot and advancing to the last-four.
Sarah Hunter returns at number 8 to captain the Red Roses in a game that will be broadcast live on ITV 4, with Alex Matthews switching to blindside flanker. Props Vickii Cornborough and Sarah Bern are added to the front row and Abbie Scott comes in at lock to partner Tamara Taylor.
In the backs, Katy Mclean returns at out-half with Amber Reed moving to inside centre, while Kay Wilson, who scored four tries in the opening game against Spain, is named on the left wing. Following her minor injury, hooker Vicky Fleetwood is fit enough to feature on the bench and centre Rachel Burford is set for her 70th cap if called upon.
“This is a winner-takes-all game in terms of topping the pool and will require a full 23-squad effort to get the job done,” said Middleton. “Regardless of whether players have been selected to start, or will come on as finishers, everyone has equal weight in the team, fully understands what their role is and what they need to deliver come match day.
“We know playing against the USA will be tough, they play a very physical game and have some dangerous players on the ball but we have prepared well and the squad are in a good place, not only physically but mentally. We have confidence in the entire squad and it’s now about going out and making sure we put in a full 80-minute performance.”
After winning the first ever World Cup in 1991, the USA reached the final in the next two tournaments in 1994 and 1998 but since that defeat to the Americans 26 years ago in the final, England have won their last 14 meetings with the Eagles – including a 39-13 victory in Utah last year.
Meanwhile, USA head coach Pete Steinberg has made only two changes to the side that brushed Spain aside 43-0 in the second round, hooker Katy Augustyn and second row Alycia Washington both returning having started that game on the bench.
The US back-line is packed with Sevens talent, their sheer pace and athleticism turn headings in the opening two rounds as the likes of Cheta Emba, Alev Kelter and Naya Tapper have benefited from the platform provided by the Eagles pack.
Notably, the back row of Jordan Gray, Sara Parson and Kate Zackary is intact for the third consecutive match; an indication of just how impressive they have been performing as a unit, while 2014 World Cup player Jess Wooden is set for her first matchday involvement in Dublin, and Nicole James is poised to make her Eagles debut as a front row reserve.
Steinberg commented: “The (pool) schedule is really tough and something that World Rugby needs to look at. We are relatively healthy and we have managed the players’ volumes pretty well. However, we came in knowing that our team had not played enough together, so we have had only a few changes in each game. This means that we are still improving as we learn to work together.
“England has the best lineout maul in the game. We need to stop their maul and disrupt in the air and on the ground. Their kicking game is also very effective, and while our back-three is very dynamic, they’ve not played a lot of rugby together. So, making sure our positioning is right is important.”
ENGLAND: Danielle Waterman (Bristol); Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Amber Reed (Bristol), Kay Wilson (Richmond); Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield); Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins), Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Sarah Bern (Bristol), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Alex Matthews (Richmond), Marlie Packer (Bristol), Sarah Hunter (Bristol) (capt).
Replacements: Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Poppy Cleall (Bristol), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield), Leanne Riley (Harlequins), Rachael Burford (Harlequins), Megan Jones (Bristol).
USA: Cheta Emba (Women’s Eagles Sevens); Naya Tapper (Women’s Eagles Sevens), Nicole Heavirland (Women’s Eagles Sevens), Alev Kelter (Women’s Eagles Sevens), Kristen Thomas (Women’s Eagles Sevens); Kimber Rozier (Harlequins), Deven Owsiany (San Diego Surfers); Catie Benson (Life West), Katy Augustyn (Berkeley All Blues), Tiffany Faaee (New York Rugby Club) (capt), Stacey Bridges (Twin Cities Amazons), Alycia Washington (New York Rugby Club), Sara Parsons (Northern Virginia Rugby), Kate Zackary (San Diego Surfers), Jordan Gray (Life West).
Replacements: Samantha Pankey (San Diego Surfers), Hope Rogers (San Diego Surfers), Nicole James (Houston Athletic Rugby Club), Abby Gustaitis (Northern Virginia Rugby Club), Kristine Sommer (Seattle Saracens), Kayla Canett-Oca (Pennsylvania State University), Sylvia Braaten (Twin Cities Amazons), Jess Wooden (Harlequins).
Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
ITALY (3rd) v SPAIN (4th), UCD Bowl, 2.45pm
Spain will have a point to prove in their final Pool B match against Italy, the Azzurre having replaced them in the Six Nations in 2007 when the Women’s tournament was aligned with the men’s event and their line-up.
Las Leonas have won nine of their 12 meetings with Italy dating back to their first clash on the World Cup stage in 1991, although three years have passed since their last game ended in a 38-7 win for Spain.
Spain’s head coach Jose Antonio Barrio has made just two changes to the side beaten 43-0 by USA, creating a new-look back-three in the process. Barbara Pla, who has completed her return-to-play protocols following a head injury against England, returns at full-back, while Iera Echeberria moves to the left wing and Barbara Garcia will make her international debut on the other touchline.
“We have a game against Italy, and if we win, we could reach one of our goals which is to finish between fifth and eighth in the competition, although other scores must go our way. Before that, we must beat Italy with a bonus point,” said Barrio.
The Italy Women have players hitting new milestones on Thursday with tighthead prop Lucia Gai the second Azzurre squad member to reach 50 caps during the tournament after Flavia Severin. Silvia Gaudino, a veteran of the WRWC 2002 campaign, will play her 70th Test as Italy aim for only their fifth win in the tournament’s history.
Gaudino returns at number 8 with her Monza club-mate Isabella Locatelli and Elisa Giordano moving across the back row as a result. Head coach Andrea di Giandomenico has made the rest of his changes in the back-line, with Beatrice Rigoni resuming her Six Nations partnership with captain Sara Barattin at half-back. Veteran out-half Veronica Schiavon drops to the bench.
Maria Magatti has unfortunately been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a shoulder injury, so Harlequins’ Michela Sillari fills the vacated left wing berth with Sofia Stefan coming onto the opposite wing after starting the 56-13 loss to England on the bench. The only other change sees the 32-year-old Paola Zangirolami, playing her last tournament with the Azzurre, given the nod at inside centre.
ITALY: Manuela Furlan (Unattached); Sofia Stefan (Stade Rennais), Maria Grazia Cioffi (Rugby Colorno), Paola Zangirolami (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Michela Sillari (Harlequins); Beatrice Rigoni (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Sara Barattin (Villorba Rugby) (capt); Marta Ferrari (Stade Rennais), Melissa Bettoni (Stade Rennais), Lucia Gai (Stade Rennais), Valeria Fedrighi (Verona Rugby), Alice Trevisan (Rugby Riviera 1975), Isabella Locatelli (Rugby Monza 1949), Elisa Giordano (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Silvia Gaudino (Rugby Monza 1949).
Replacements: Elisa Cucchiella (Rugby Belve Neroverdi), Michela Este (Benetton Treviso), Sara Tounesi (Rugby Colorno), Valentina Ruzza (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Ilaria Arrighetti (Stade Rennais), Veronica Schiavon (Yokohama TKM), Elisa Bonaldo (Rugby Colorno), Veronica Madia (Rugby Colorno).
SPAIN: Barbara Pla (Getxo RT); Barbara Garcia (Olimpico de Pozuelo), Vanesa Rial (CRAT Universidade da Coruna), Marina Bravo (CR Cisneros), Iera Echebarria (Olimpico de Pozuelo); Patricia Garcia (FER), Anne Fernandez de Corres (CR Cisneros); Isabel Rico (Olimpico de Pozuelo), Aroa Gonzalez (INEF Barcelona) (capt), Jeanina Vinueza (Saracens RFC), Maria Ribera (XV Sanse Scrum), Rocio Garcia (Lalin RC), Diana Gasso (Gotics RC), Paula Medin (CRAT Universidade da Coruna), Angela del Pan (INEF Barcelona).
Replacements: Saioa Jaurena (Getxo RT), Isabel Macias (Olimpico de Pozuelo), Laura Delgado (CRAT Universidade da Coruna), Monica Castelo (CRAT Universidade da Coruna), Berta Garcia (CRAT Universidade da Coruna), Carlota Meliz (XV Sanse Scrum), Amaia Erbina (CR Cisneros), Uri Barrutieta (Getxo RT).
Referee: Sara Cox (England)
POOL C –
AUSTRALIA (3rd) v JAPAN (4th), Billings Park, 5pm
Australia’s inspirational captain Shannon Parry will miss her team’s final pool match against Japan, having been ruled out with injury. The flanker impressed during their opening two games but is sidelined for their tussle with the Asian champions.
Parry’s absence forces a pack reshuffle as regular lock Chloe Butler moves to openside flanker and Alisha Hewett comes into the second row. Parry’s Sevens co-captain, Sharni Williams, will captain the Wallaroos from outside centre.
Sarah Riordan, who, like Hewett, is a representative of the Australian Defence Force, will take on the key play-making role against Japan, with Kayla Sauvao starting at inside centre and Trilleen Pomare moving to the replacements. The bench also includes the uncapped Kate Brown from ACT.
Meanwhile, Japan boss Goshi Arimizu has also kept his changes to a minimum, rewarding the players who impressed in the first half against Ireland and led the hosts 14-0 at half-time before ultimately slipping to a 24-14 loss at UCD Bowl.
After that defeat Arimizu said his players lacked the ‘right sort of mental control to see us through’ to arguably the greatest shock in WRWC history, and he will be hoping they have learned from that experience should the Sakura 15 find themselves in a position to win only Japan’s second World Cup match.
Aya Nakajima from Kumagaya comes into the second row in the only change to the pack from the Ireland defeat, while Yokohama’s Eriko Hirano switches to the left wing to accommodate the selection of the 24-year-old Akari Kato for her World Cup debut.
AUSTRALIA: Samantha Treherne (Queensland/Sunnybank); Nareta Marsters (Queensland/Sunnybank), Sharni Williams (Australia Sevens/ACT/Canberra Royals) (capt), Kayla Sauvao (Sydney/Parramatta), Mahalia Murphy (Australia Sevens/NSW/Campbell Town); Sarah Riordan (Australian Defence Force/Victoria/Melbourne), Katrina Barker (NSW Country/Newcastle University); Liz Patu (Queensland/Wests), Cheyenne Campbell (Queensland/Redlands), Hilisha Samoa (Queensland/Brothers), Alisha Hewett (Australian Defence Force/Queensland/GPS), Millie Boyle (ACT/Canberra Royals), Mollie Gray (Australian Defence Force/NSW/Maitland), Chloe Butler (South Australia/Parramatta), Grace Hamilton (Sydney/Sydney University).
Replacements: Emily Robinson (Sydney/Warringah), Violeta Tupuola (ACT/Canberra Royals), Hana Ngaha (Queensland/Sunnybank), Rebecca Clough (Western Australia/Cottesloe), Kate Brown (ACT/Tuggeranong Vikings), Fenella Hake (Queensland/Redlands), Ashleigh Timoko (Western Australia/Wanneroo), Trilleen Pomare (Western Australia/Wanneroo).
JAPAN: Mayu Shimizu (Nippon Sport Science Univ); Akari Kato (Ka-Ra-Da Factory Rugirl-7), Iroha Nagata (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Riho Kurogi (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Eriko Hirano (Yokohama TKM); Minori Yamamoto (Nippon Sport Science Univ), Moe Tsukui (The Second HS, Tokyo University of Agriculture); Makoto Ebuchi (Aoyama Gakuin Univ/Tokyo Phoenix RC), Seina Saito (Pearls) (capt), Saki Minami (Nippon Sport Science Univ), Aya Nakajima (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Ayano Sakurai (Nippon Sport Science Univ), Yuki Sue (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Sayaka Suzuki (RKU Rugby Ryugasaki Grace), Maki Takano (Nippon Sport Science Univ).
Replacements: Misaki Suzuki (Tokyo Phoenix RC), Mizuho Kataoka (Yokohama TKM), Maiko Fujimoto (Yokohama TKM), Ai Hyugaji (Tokyo Phoenix RC), Yui Shiozaki (Tokyo Phoenix RC), Yumeno Noda (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Ayaka Suzuki (Arukas Queen Kumagaya), Ai Tasaka (Arukas Queen Kumagaya).
Referee: Claire Hodnett (England)
FRANCE (1st) v IRELAND (2nd), UCD Bowl, 7.45pm
Munster duo Nicole Cronin and Leah Lyons will start for Ireland in Thursday’s crunch Pool C clash with France at the UCD Bowl. The winners will top the pool and qualify for the semi-finals in Belfast.
An impressive debut performance against Japan has seen Cronin preferred to Larissa Muldoon at scrum half, while Lyons, who had the desired impact off the bench last Sunday, gets the nod at hooker ahead of Cliodhna Moloney.
Head coach Tom Tierney has selected the same team that defeated Australia, apart from the inclusions of Cronin, Lyons, Sophie Spence and Ciara Griffin, with the latter pair scoring tries as influential replacements in the Pool C opener.
Loosehead Lindsay Peat and captain Claire Molloy are set for their third successive starts of the tournament up front. Peat and Lyons are joined by Ailis Egan in the same front row combination that caused problems for France during Ireland’s 13-10 Six Nations win over les Bleues earlier this year at Donnybrook.
Marie Louise Reilly, the Aon player-of-the-match against the Wallaroos, resumes her second row partnership with Spence, while Molloy reverts to openside flanker with Griffin continuing on the blindside, and Paula Fitzpatrick, who bagged a vital brace of tries against the Japanese, returns at number 8.
Fresh from her player-of-the-match display the last day, experienced out-half Nora Stapleton and Cronin command the half-back positions. Jenny Murphy comes back in to form a powerful centre pairing with Sene Naoupu, who has been ever-present in the pool stages along with fellow backs Stapleton, Alison Miller and Hannah Tyrrell.
Ireland’s starting back-line is completed by a back-three of Tyrrell at full-back, Eimear Considine on the right wing and Miller on the left. The bench options, which have proven crucial for Tierney’s side in the opening two rounds, include Louise Galvin who made her 15s international debut at the start of the second half against Japan.
Previewing the showdown with pool leaders France, Tierney said: “We’ve had lots of tough games against France over the years and we know tomorrow evening is going to be no different. They have looked really good in their opening two games of the tournament and they’ll be coming into this game full of confidence.
“It’s a cup final tomorrow night, with a place in the semi-finals up for grabs, so we want the players to go out there and give it everything. It won’t be easy, but with the crowd behind them, they have the ability to claim a place in the final four.”
The eagerly-awaited Ireland v France match will be broadcast live on television in the Republic of Ireland by eir Sport 2 and RTE Two, and in the UK by ITV 4. RTE 2fm will have also live commentary on radio, while there will be live streaming available on www.rwcwomens.com in selected regions.
Meanwhile, France have certainly caught the eye with their victories over Japan (72-14) and Australia (48-0), the latter a sublime display of attacking rugby that the Wallaroos simply had no answer to with wingers Shannon Izar and Chloe Pelle and fleet-footed flanker Romane Menager running in tries from anywhere.
Izar scored a hat-trick inside 25 first half minutes against the Australians, while Pelle scored two herself and they will swap wings for this third round game. In all, head coach Samuel Cherouk has made three changes in personnel.
Les Bleues welcome back Caroline Ladagnous, a hat-trick heroine against Japan, to renew her centre partnership with Elodie Poublan, while prop Annaëlle Deshayes and redoubtable captain Gaëlle Mignot return to the front row, the latter having come off the bench the last day to score a trademark try off the back of a powerful driving maul.
“When we are in the French national team we have one duty – win games and wear proudly the colours of our country,” said Mignot. “We need all the girls back home to feel and to say, ‘I want to be like these people and do what they do’.”
FRANCE: Montserrat Amédée (Montpellier RC/FFR); Chloé Pelle (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois/FFR), Caroline Ladagnous (AC Bobigny 93/FFR), Elodie Poublan (Montpellier RC), Shannon Izar (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois/FFR); Caroline Drouin (Stade Rennais), Yanna Rivoalen (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois); Annaëlle Deshayes (Ovalie Caennaise), Gaëlle Mignot (Montpellier RC) (capt), Julie Duval (Ovalie Caennaise), Lénaig Corson (Stade Rennais/FFR), Audrey Forlani (Blagnac Saint-Orens Rugby Féminin), Marjorie Mayans (Blagnac Saint-Orens Rugby Féminin/FFR), Romane Ménager (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois), Safi N’Diaye (Montpellier RC).
Replacements: Caroline Thomas (ASM Romagnat), Lise Arricastre (Lons Rugby Féminin Béarn Pyrénées), Patricia Carricaburu (Lons Rugby Féminin Béarn Pyrénées), Céline Ferer (AS Bayonne), Julie Annery (AC Bobigny 93), Jade Le Pesq (Stade Rennais/FFR), Carla Neisen (Blagnac Saint-Orens Rugby Féminin), Camille Grassineau (Stade Français/FFR).
IRELAND: Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster); Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Harlequins), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht) (capt), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster).
Replacements: Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster), Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht), Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster), Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union/Ulster), Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster), Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster).
Referee: Graham Cooper (Australia)