England handed South Africa a 75-0 thrashing at Auckland’s Waitakere Stadium on Sunday as group play in the women’s Rugby World Cup concluded with the tournament favourites setting up a quarter-final meeting with Australia next weekend.
England’s 13-try victory secured them third seeding behind defending champions New Zealand and Canada, who earlier defeated the United States 29-14 to line up last-eight meeting with their neighbours on Sunday.
Favourites England will take on the Australians for a place in the semi-finals after topping Pool C while New Zealand face Wales on the other side of the draw.
Italy scraped home 21-8 in their final match against Japan to set up a quarter-final against fourth seeds France, who they beat in their final warm-up match for the tournament.
“I’m very happy with the outcome of us making it to the quarter-finals but I am not very happy with the overall performance,” said Italy coach Andrea Di Giandomenico.
“We have to work hard for our next game because we can’t lose possession, we have to make sure we don’t make any mistakes and work hard.”
Italy advanced to the quarter-finals for the first time with Melissa Bettoni’s 78th-minute try sealing the victory after Michela Sillari’s two second-half penalties had given Di Giandomenico’s side the lead.
Early scores from Emily Tuttosi and Alex Tessier put Canada in control of their meeting with the United States and, although Alev Kelter reduced the deficit in the 19th minute, Paige Farries’ try gave Kevin Rouet’s team a 19-7 lead at halftime.
Olivia DeMerchant scored on the hour mark to earn the Canadians a bonus point and Mikiela Nelson dived over the line in the final seconds.
England’s forwards were utterly dominant against a South African side that needed an unlikely win in the day’s final game to secure the last remaining quarter-final berth ahead of Wales.
Second-row Rose Galligan and Connie Powell each scored a hat-trick of tries while Poppy Cleall and Sadia Kabeya crossed the line twice apiece.
Shaunagh Brown, Marlie Packer and Abby Dow also put their names on the scoresheet in a one-sided contest.
The win saw the English extend their record run of consecutive victories to 28, a sequence that extends back to 2019 when they lost against New Zealand.
“We talked earlier on today about being good defensively and putting a lot of pressure on South Africa because we know how dangerous they are if you give them space, and I’m really thrilled with that,” said England coach Simon Middleton.
“But I’m really pleased with the balance of the game as well, we attacked from different areas and we were really pleased.
“It will be great just getting (into the quarter-finals) whoever we play, but playing Australia in particular is fantastic because we don’t get that many opportunities to play each other and it will be a great contest.”