Upsets were few and far between in round one of the Women’s World Cup, so what’s in store in round two?
England take on Spain in the first game in Pool A on Friday, looking to record another maximum points haul and put themselves in a strong position to take on Canada in the final pool game. They demolished Samoa in the opening round, while Spain faught valiantly but were ultimately outclassed against Canada. Spain are a very small side, more suited to the sevens game, so expect England’s greater power and precision to tell here. England by 35.
This pool’s second game is unlikely to be any closer. Samoa showed their physicality against England, but little else, and were guilty of stepping over the edge, as their red card showed. Soteria Pulumu, as a result, is unavailable for selection. They undoubtedly have a better chance if they can keep 15 players on the field, but even so Canada, led by the brilliant Magali Harvey, should be much too good for them. Canada by 50.
The game of the round comes from Pool B, where New Zealand take on Ireland. Both sides won in the opening round, albeit in different circumstances. The Black Ferns trounced Kazakhstan, while Ireland battled superbly to beat the USA in what was a brilliant game. They will have to step it up a notch if they are to beat the defending champions, who never really had to leave second gear in overcoming the Nomads. Expect this one to be a lot closer, although the Kiwis should still prevail. New Zealand by 12.
The USA’s loss to Ireland all but rules them out of semi-final contention. They need to win their remaining two fixtures, including against the Black Ferns, and hope that other results go their way. Still, they will believe they have a chance and will come out all guns blazing against Kazakhstan. The Nomads, for their part, deserved more than the drubbing they received from New Zealand, such was the effort they put in. They’ll give it their all again this time, and while it probably won’t be such a big margin, it should still be a comfortable win for the Americans. USA by 40.
Australia were professional against South Africa in the opening game, winning comfortably, but will their failure to get a bonus point come back to haunt them? They take on a Wales side who were outplayed by the hosts in the opening round, but who are more comfortable in the 15-a-side game than the Australians. They’ll look to use that to their advantage, but the Australians know they have to win this one, and probably win it well, if they’re to progress. Whether they will or not is another matter. Australia by 6.
Elsewhere, France will look to make the most of their main pool rivals Australia’s failure to secure a bonus point against South Africa by doing just that themselves. South Africa have lost their captain Mandisa Williams, who is facing a 16 week ban for gouging in their opening game, but frankly even if she had been available it’s unlikely to have made any difference against the host nation, who thrived in front of their home fans in round one. Expect more of the same here. France by 35.
How do you see round two going?
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43