SUNDERLAND teacher Katy McLean guided her England women’s team to the World Cup final after seeing off Ireland 40-7 – then swiftly turned her sights to lifting the trophy on Sunday.
Mclean’s side produced their best performance of the tournament Stade Jean Bouin in Paris against opponents whose semi-final appearance had been underpinned by a stunning pool stage victory over competition heavyweights New Zealand.
England will now meet Canada in Sunday’s final.
And they now have a glorious chance to erase memories of an agonising 13-10 World Cup final defeat against New Zealand at the Twickenham Stoop four years ago.
Shields-born Mclean, who works as a teacher in Sunderland’s Bexhill Academy, and who plays for Darlington Mowden Park, was vice-captain in 2010, but now has a glorious chance to get her hands on the trophy, supported by Jarrovians coach Tamara Taylor, who was also excellent for England yesterday.
And Mclean believes her side have a great chance of becoming world champions if they play like they did against Ireland.
“We are delighted with the performance,” she said.
“I think the scoreline reflects the fact that we really did turn up on the day and we performed really well.
“I am so proud of all of the girls. The forwards and the backs all delivered, and we have a huge opportunity on Sunday. We can’t wait.
When we do execute and we get our plays right, we can cause teams some serious problems.
“The biggest thing about our rugby is that if you play on the front foot you can play a decent game.”
Ireland took the lead through an early try from wing Alison Miller that full-back Niamh Briggs converted, but England established a firm grip on proceedings by scoring 18 points in 13 first-half minutes.
Prop Rochelle Clark claimed an opening close-range touchdown, then wing Kat Merchant rounded off a sweeping move, with centre Emily Scarratt booting two penalties and a conversion.
Scarratt completed her penalty hat-trick shortly after the restart, and Ireland could find no way back as England marched on in pursuit of World Cup glory following three runners-up finishes between 2002 and 2010.
Wing Kay Wilson added a third touchdown before substitute forward Marlie Packer claimed a quickfire double and Ceri Large kicked two conversions as Ireland’s bid for silverware ground to an emphatic halt.