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England have all but confirmed their spot in the semi-finals of the Women's World Cup with a convincing 54-4 win over Canada.

Scoring inside the opening minute of the match, England led from start to finish to post another healthy win in front of their home fans, with the match featuring as the first of two England games at DW Stadium with the men's quarter-final to follow.

With a final pool match against Papua New Guinea to determine top spot in Group A, the Lionesses are facing a blockbuster semi-final match against either Australia or New Zealand, who are firming as the two teams that will progress from Group B.

Despite several of their players rested from the clash — including their all-time leading try-scorer in Amy Hardcastle — coach Craig Richards would have no doubt liked what he saw from his side as their attacking prowess shone through against Canada, who made things tough for the hosts throughout the first half.

With limited opportunities to attack, England shifted the ball extremely well from side-to-side; edge forward Hollie Dodd capitalising with a first half double as Francesca Goldthorp caused havoc for the defence from fullback.

Leah Burke opened the scoring after just 36 seconds after a Canada knock-on from the kickoff, before Courtney Winfield-Hill started to take over the contest — putting the Ravens on the back foot for Dodd's first try after 16 minutes while setting up another moments later with a cross-field kicking leading to Georgia Wilson's try. 

Stanley scores a hat-trick

Goldthorp and five-eighth Georgia Roche both produced mesmerising individual efforts just before the break to blow the scoreline out to 30-0 at the interval, which could have been more had Tara-Jane Stanley's goal-kicking improved.

Having scored inside the opening minute of the first half, England did the same after the break with Tara-Jane Stanley touching down after Vicky Whitfield's break before grabbing a second just minutes later as she fended her way over in the corner.

Petra Woods would eventually get Canada on the board after the Ravens' captain Gabrielle Hindley held off several defenders to set up the centre, but England would return to their attacking groove soon after with Carrie Roberts crossing before Stanley completed her hat-trick after a clever tip-on from Goldthorp.

As rain teamed down at Wigan throughout the second half, Winfield-Hill's kicking game once again came to the fore as Leah Burke crossed for a simple try to take the hosts beyond the half century — England finishing the match as 50-point winners to extend their lead on top of Group A ahead of Papua New Guinea's clash against Brazil later on Sunday morning (AEDT).

Match Snapshot

  • An error from the kickoff saw Leah Burke cross in the opening minute of the game — the winger officially touching down after just 36 seconds of play. That was nearly bettered in the second half by Tara-Jane Stanley, who also scored in the opening minute of the half (her effort coming after 49 seconds).
  • Hollie Dodd bagged a first half double after earning her first start of the tournament while Tara-Jane Stanley grabbed a second half hat-trick to extend her lead atop the top try-scorers list for the World Cup.
  • Petra Woods scored her second try of the World Cup tournament after touching down against Papua New Guinea in the first game.
  • England had 15 linebreaks compared to just three for the Ravens, while Canada finished the match with close to 100 missed tackles (89).
  • Tara-Jane Stanley's goal-kicking will be an area to improve if England are to go further in the competition, with the fullback-turned-centre landing just five of her 11 attempts days after landing eight from 14 attempts against Brazil.
Tara-Jane Stanley celebrates her hat-trick against Canada.
Tara-Jane Stanley celebrates her hat-trick against Canada. ©Getty Images

Play of the Game

England scored two tries in the first half off the scrums, with the second the pick of the bunch. Francesca Goldthorp showed great pace to skip outside her defender before toying with the defence to create a gap, fending away from the cover tacklers and crossing the line for a well-deserved four-pointer.

What They Said

We really focused on completions and being physical. We knew we were in for a bit of an arm wrestle for the first 20 minutes, but we knew that if we could get over that threshold, and win that threshold, then we could plow on and put the pressure on. I thought our forwards were outstanding today. We got a lot of push, had a lot of metres and tackle busts, and it really lays the foundation to be on the front foot and play out the back. Give them a bit of space and we know we're in for a good day." — England lock and player of the match Vicky Molyneux

What's Next

Having secured their spot in the semi-finals, England will now face Papua New Guinea next week in their final pool game with top spot in Group A on the line. While they won't be able to progress through to the knockout rounds, Canada will take on Brazil in a bid to secure their first win of the World Cup, with all four teams set to feature as part of a double-header at Emerald Headingley Stadium in Leeds.

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.