Rugby-England make two changes for World Cup semi against Canada


FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Women's World Cup - Pool C - France v England - Okara Park, Whangarei, New Zealand - October 15, 2022 England's Claudia MacDonald in action REUTERS/David Rowland

(Reuters) -Winger Claudia MacDonald has been recalled to the England team for Saturday's women's Rugby World Cup semi-final against Canada at Auckland's Eden Park after missing the last two matches through injury.

The return of MacDonald, who has scored six tries so far in the tournament, was one of two changes made by coach Simon Middleton for the match to decide who meets France or New Zealand in the final.

In the other, Hannah Botterman starts at loosehead prop alongside hooker Amy Cokayne and Sarah Bern in the front row, while Vickii Cornborough drops to the bench.

"If you see an opportunity to improve or create different pictures that you believe could benefit the team's performance, you have to be brave enough with your selections to make those calls," Middleton said.

"Canada are an opponent we know well with great pedigree and history in the women's game. We know they are a strong side."

Canada, who have the unenviable task of trying to stop England's winning streak at 29 matches, have made only one change to the team that beat the United States in the quarter-finals last week.

Coach Kevin Rouet has brought flanker Sara Svoboda onto his bench for winger Pamphinette Buisa, leaving only Anais Holly to cover the backline positions for what is expected to be a titanic forward clash with the English.

Canada have not beaten tournament favourites England in eight matches going back to a 52-17 victory in Salt Lake City in 2016 and lost the 2014 World Cup final to the Red Roses.

Canada: 15-Elissa Alarie, 14-Maddy Grant, 13-Alysha Corrigan, 12-Sara Kaljuvee, 11-Paige Farries, 10-Alex Tessier, 9-Justine Pelletier, 8-Sophie De Goede (captain), 7-Karen Paquin, 6-Fabiola Forteza, 5-McKinley Hunt, 4-Courtney Holtkamp, 3-DaLeaka Menin, 2-Emily Tuttosi, 1-Olivia DeMerchant.

Replacements: 16-Gillian Boag, 17-Brittany Kassil, 18-Alexandria Ellis, 19-Ngalula Fuamba, 20-Tyson Beukeboom, 21- Gabrielle Senft, 22-Sara Svoboda, 23-Anais Holly

England: 15-Helena Rowland, 14-Abby Dow, 13-Emily Scarratt, 12-Tatyana Heard, 11-Claudia MacDonald, 10-Zoe Harrison, 9-Leanne Infante, 8-Sarah Hunter, 7-Marlie Packer, 6-Alex Matthews, 5-Abbie Ward, 4-Zoe Aldcroft, 3-Sarah Bern, 2-Amy Cokayne, 1-Hannah Botterman

Replacements: 16-Lark Davies, 17-Vickii Cornborough, 18-Maud Muir, 19-Rosie Galligan, 20-Poppy Cleall, 21-Lucy Packer, 22-Holly Aitchison, 23-Ellie Kildunne.

(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk and Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ed Osmond & Shri Navaratnam)

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