Both England and New Zealand survived the fiercest of mental and physical challenges to reach the Women’s World Cup final – England defeating Canada 26 v 19 and New Zealand narrowly edging France 25 v 24.
Competitors don’t like to lose and both Canada and France ignored the pundits and put in match winning performances, but they both fell just short.
Canada’s effort was immense, especially as they were the only amateur team in the semi finals. Their organisation and fitness was commendable.
France had the weaponry to beat New Zealand, but to lose to a kickable missed penalty kick will haunt them.
Winning semi-finals is never easy and how a coach reacts is important.
There is a lot a coach can say and do after the win OR they can just enjoy the win and quietly make some adjustments throughout the week.
New Zealand will be aware of England’s weaker right-side defence. Canada created space out wide on several occasions.
England will note how penetrative France were close to the ruck.
New Zealand will pressure England’s kicking game. Passing the ball back behind your attack to kick downfield is risky and open to a charge down.
Both sides will need to be patient in attack and have a high work rate in defence. Both aspects require intense concentration, with a touch of who dares wins.
Both attacks must consider the importance of when to attack the drift defence. The role of the inside support players crucial to retaining possession and going forward again.
So much is made of momentum swings. How do you regain the momentum and assert your self again?
World class players can produce some magic and get you back in the game. Alternatively, you can run your way back into the game, be relentless in defence and pursuit of the ball, be disciplined, be passionate and use perfect technique.
Wayne Smith has World Cup final experience. Simon Middleton is a Yorkshireman and that’s usually enough. Plus, he has moulded this team into a powerful unit since taking over in 2015 – winning 4 grand slams.
England will play the entire North and South Island of New Zealand. There will be a full house at Eden Park.
How both teams handle the occasion may be a factor. One thing is for sure, the game will be a spectacle. Quality technique and execution of the basics will be vital. Decision making under pressure needs to be positive and effective.
The better team may win, or it may be the better team with the most World Class players.
Finally, there is the unpredictable, the drama, something happening we didn’t consider. Let’s hope the weather is kind to both teams.
I remember watching Simon Middleton play, so I’m going to predict an England win. 18 – 12.
Coaching thought: I like the quote from Brian Ashton – “Let’s win by scoring tries.”