England set for stress test of set-piece power in Canada semi-final

England set for stress test of set-piece power in Canada semi-final

England will expect the first genuine challenge to their dominant tight game in Saturday's Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-final against Canada.

Marlie Packer's hat-trick sent England powering past Australia 41-5 on a near-waterlogged pitch in Sunday's seven-try demolition of the Wallaroos.

England have continually flexed their driving-maul muscles in this New Zealand World Cup, to devastating effect, but will now face a real test of their set-piece credentials against Canada.

"Canada are an outstanding side and are really well-drilled with a great set-piece and are very well-organised and coached," said England head coach Simon Middleton.

"You do your research through the competition and then hone in on the opponent when you know who you will face. It will be a formidable challenge."

Stars: Emily Scarratt and Marlie Packer (AP)
Stars: Emily Scarratt and Marlie Packer (AP)

Captain Sarah Hunter toasted her England record 138th Test with a try, with Middleton's side again extending their all-time winning run to 29 matches.

The 37-year-old Hunter took the record from former England team-mate Rocky Clark, paying tribute to her close friend. Hunter said:"Her messages were just amazing. She said there is no one she'd rather hand the baton onto than me and the best thing about the 138 caps is the friendships that you make.

"I feel incredibly proud to have shared some really special moments with her along the way."

England's lineout and maul dominance again came good in Auckland.

Hunter said: "We've worked on it over the years and we've kept building. Teams will look at ways to stop that, and it's fine, we'll find ways around that."