Sarah Hunter and her generals will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing a team that should, in theory, give England their biggest scare yet. As the only all-amateur team left in the competition, the Canadians – led by their tenacious number 8 Sophie de Goede – certainly did something striking. Their starting front row of Olivia Demerchant, Emily Tuttosi and Daleaka Menin is a particularly ferocious force expected to test England’s mettle.
The trio spent their entire time in the Premier 15s, featuring for Exeter Chiefs. In fact, most of their group have played in England’s top flight, which speaks volumes for their firepower. As the all-time leading try scorer, Tuttosi has been outstanding in all competitions. It will be fascinating to see if Lark Davies, the former England first-choice cheat who got his first minutes under his belt against Australia after recovering from a minor ankle problem, will be the Red Roses’ starting whore. You sense this will be an especially big call from head coach Simon Middleton given that Amy Cokayne has made no mistake so far.
If Canada are to target the Red Roses and have even the slightest hope of breaking their 29-game winning streak, they will need to take a leaf out of France’s book and strike at England’s not-so-subtle forward game. Les Bleues were a disruptive force on the line in their tournament-opening meeting with England, and Canada must put together a game plan that is just as bright if they are to avoid a one-sided result.
Much has been made of how England have built their game around their red-hot attacking dominance. Back-to-back this tournament, all their tries have been scored by different pack personnel against the Wallaroos. They stuck to what they do best, which is to say they executed their set elements to great effect.