Ireland vs England
The first semi-final sees Ireland, who brought New Zealand’s dominance of this tournament to a shuddering halt in that fateful game in round two, take on Six Nations rivals England. The Irish have been superb this tournament – gritty when they’ve needed to be, but not afraid to play with flair, either. They lacked for cohesion in their final pool game against Kazakhstan, but with their first team regulars returning for this game they will be back to their best.
England stumbled to a draw against Canada in round three, which was all they needed to finish top of their pool thanks to their vastly superior points difference, but really they had an off day from Canada’s kicker Magali Harvey to thank for not losing that game. They will need to be significantly better against Ireland, who have been equal to them in the Six Nations in the past couple of years. The squad has been rotated again, but it looks a strong team that coach Gary Street has named.
This is Ireland’s first time in the semi-finals, and in tournaments as tight as World Cups, experience is usually vital. For that reason, I’m backing England to edge this one. England by 3.
France vs Canada
Hosts France have been nothing short of sublime so far this tournament. Sure, they have probably emerged from an easier pool than the rest of the semi-finalists, but the flair that they have shown in dispatching the likes of South Africa and Wales was great to watch, and has really rallied the home crowd. When they needed to grind out a win against Australia, they did that too. The home support has been fantastic, and nobody wants this party to end just yet.
Canada should have beaten England in the final game in their pool. Their stock has steadily been rising on the world scene in recent years, and a semi-final here is no less than this team deserves. They have some genuinely flair players in the likes of Magali Harvey and Mandy Marchak, while Kelly Russell has been one of the unsung heroes of the tournament. On their day they can beat anyone, but do they have the belief to beat France on home soil?
Home advantage makes the French favourites for this one, but really it’s incredibly difficult to call. France by 2.
Of course the beauty of the Women’s World Cup is that there are still knockout fixtures for the rest of the sides not in the semi-finals – nobody is on their way home yet. Here are our SuperBru predictions for the rest of the fixtures:
South Africa vs Samoa: South Africa by 10
New Zealand vs Wales: New Zealand by 25
Spain vs Kazakhstan: Spain by 35
Australia vs USA: USA by 5
How do you see the first round of knockout fixtures going?
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43