ENGLAND forward Hollie Dodd knows another strong defensive performance will be key tonight (Monday) as the hosts prepare to face New Zealand for a place in Saturday’s World Cup final at Old Trafford.
A 42-4 win over Papua New Guinea last week ensured England topped Group A and set up a showdown with the Kiwi Ferns at York (kick-off 7.30pm).
Having gone behind to an early try against the Orchids, England showed the grit needed to get back into the game and hold PNG out from any further scores. It means England have only conceded one try in each of their games so far and that is a record Dodd is keen to keep intact.
“The group stages have been tough, but going into the semi we know it’ll be another a different challenge for us,” said Dodd.
“We just have to keep building on what we have done so far going into Monday and hopefully we can tough out another result.
“We’re going to need another big defensive effort because that wins games. Each and every player has dug deep in defence so far and we’ll need more of the same against New Zealand.
“It has helped us massively that everyone has put their bodies on the line so far in this tournament and we need to do that again on Monday.
“Defence has been one of our main focuses in the last few week and that has been no different ahead of the semi-final.”
For Dodd, an appearance in the semi-final will be made all the more special for the fact that she will get to run out at the LNER Community Stadium, where she and a number of her international team-mates enjoyed so much success with York in Super League earlier this year.
“I am absolutely thrilled that we have made the semi-final,” added Dodd.
“We knew it would be a tough game against Papua New Guinea, but we all dug in and put in a great performance.
“Playing the game at York definitely adds a bit extra to the game for me and the other York girls. It’s great that we can get back and play there because it is such a good stadium.
“It would be great if we can have it full of supporters too. No matter how many turn up I’m sure they’ll bring the atmosphere and really get behind us.
“It’s like having an extra player on the pitch when the crowd gets behind you, it really gets us going and that will be massive on Monday.”
England 19-player squad: 1 Tara Stanley, 2 Caitlin Beevers, 3 Fran Goldthorp, 4 Amy Hardcastle, 5 Leah Burke, 6 Georgia Roche, 7 Courtney Winfield-Hill, 8 Grace Field, 9 Tara Jones, 11 Hollie Dodd, 12 Emily Rudge, 13 Jodie Cunningham, 14 Vicky Molyneux, 15 Vicky Whitfield, 17 Shona Hoyle, 18 Olivia Wood, 19 Paige Travis, 21 Keara Bennett, 22 Zoe Harris.
New Zealand 19-player squad: 5 Madison Bartlett, 23 Brianna Clark, 13 Georgia Hale, 12 Amber-Paris Hall, 8 Mya Hill-Moana, 24 Mele Hufanga, 14 Nita Maynard, 4 Page McGregor, 7 Raecene McGregor, 11 Roxette Murdoch-Masila, 1 Apii Nicholls, 10 Annetta-Claudia Nu’uausala, 18 Otesa Pule, 15 Abigail Roache, 9 Krystal Rota, 3 Autumn-Rain Stephens Daly, 16 Charlotte Scanlan, 17 Christyl Stowers, 2 Katelyn Vahaakolo.