England Women reach World Cup semis – despite defeat

England will feature in Sunday’s Women’s World Cup semi-finals in Sydney – despite slipping to a shock defeat today against the Cook Islands.

Cook Islands needed to win by 60 points to edge above the Lionesses in Group A. And while that never looked remotely possible, England will have to spend the next few days regrouping for Sunday’s clash with likely Group B table-toppers New Zealand after this shock 22-16 reverse.

The demoralising nature of the defeat is compounded by the fact that the Lionesses recovered from 16-0 down at the break to level matters with four minutes left when Kayleigh Bulman crossed in the corner.

Claire Garner was understandably unable to add the extras from the touchline, but the Islands simply refused to settle for a draw, Inangaro Maraeara making a break from inside her own half before Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate sent Te Amohaere Ngata-Aerengamate in for a sensational match-winning score.

Full reports on this game and all other matches this week in the Women’s World Cup will feature in Monday’s issue of League Express.