Middleton delighted by Red Roses fight

Red Roses head coach Simon Middleton praised the fighting qualities of his side after they booked their place at the Women’s Rugby World Cup final with a 20-3 win over France at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.

As well as facing a well drilled France side, England had to contend with wet conditions in Belfast with consistent rain throughout the 80 minutes but converted tries from Sarah Bern and Meg Jones, as well as two penalties from Emily Scarratt, secured a fifth successive final.

England will be playing in their seventh final out of eight tournaments and will be looking to defend the title they won in France three years ago.

"It was game befitting of a World Cup semi-final," said Middleton. "France have been incredible in this tournament and we've seen both sides of them with the flair, but they showed their toughness tonight.

"We had to fight every inch of the way but I'm absolutely thrilled.

"We said at half-time if we were patient and we kept the tempo up, tweaked what we were doing a little bit, were patient in the 22 we would get on top of them.

"We dominated the second-half, or large periods of it, and it was testament to France's defence that they were in the game right until the end."

No panic

England have beaten Spain, Italy, USA and France on their way to the final but this win was very different to their performances which saw them top Pool B.

In each of their pool stage games the Red Roses has scored a bonus-point try before half-time, but the weather called for a more pragmatic approach which England’s forwards rose to with their pick and drive play impressing.

After spending large amounts of time in France territory, the second-half tries secured the win and Middleton was pleased by how the team kept to plan.

"They are the last group to panic and they know when to step up," he added.

"We've been in a lot of tough situations this year, a lot of pressurised situations and they have come out of the right side of them all, and we've one more to do.

"They won't need pointing in any direction and they'll know exactly what it will take on Saturday."


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