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Simon Middleton admits England must step up their game for World Cup final

By PA
Simon Middleton congratulates Canadian players following England's win in the World Cup semi-final. Photo by Hannah Peters - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

England head coach Simon Middleton knows his side’s hardest test still awaits after the Red Roses booked their place in the World Cup final with a battling 26-19 win over Canada at Eden Park.

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Amateurs Canada pushed England in Auckland, with both teams scoring three tries.

However, after being pegged back going into half-time with a slender 15-12 lead, England’s superiority eventually told as a fine breakaway try from Abby Dow, her second of the match, and three penalties by Emily Scarratt helped secure victory.

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England, who extended their winning run to 30 matches, will go on to meet either hosts New Zealand or France on November 12.

“We came here to get into the final, and we had to do it by hook or by crook today,” Middleton said

“Canada were absolutely brilliant today, they just don’t make mistakes with the ball and put you under a lot of pressure.

“We have a bit of work to do this week in terms of putting our game back together because we didn’t play well today.”

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Middleton added in quotes on englandrugby.com: “We had a great start and set the blueprint of keeping the ball, but then we missed a few opportunities, and invited them into the game.

“They are a good side with spirit and character, and tough players who keep going.

“I am proud of our players because they fought hard. We got into the final, and that’s all that matters.”

England captain Sarah Hunter also praised the mentality of the squad.

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“We knew Canada would be in it, we know they have been fantastic all tournament, so when we knew there were points on offer you have to take them,” Hunter told ITV Sport.

“For rugby fans I hope that was an advertisement for what women’s rugby is all about. Canada were relentless and the girls put their bodies on the line.”

Canada captain Sophie de Goede hopes their run in the showpiece tournament will help the sport to continue to develop back home.

“I am incredibly proud, but we are disappointed. We are not happy losing in the semi-finals,” she said.

“I don’t think this was our best performance. With more time together and more (funding) we could do more.

“We are very grateful to be part of Rugby Canada. I don’t think it is our union, they have supported us really well. We just don’t have the capabilities (on the pitch) right now.”

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