By Gary Anderson

Canada reached their first ever Women's Rugby World Cup final with victory over France ©Getty ImagesEngland thrashed Ireland to reach their fourth consecutive Women's Rugby World Cup final where they will meet Canada, who overcame hosts France in a much tighter affair at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris. 

The Irish were playing in their first ever semi-final  and did not display any sign of nerves as they made a positive start, and that was rewarded in the 16th minute as Gillian Bourke crossed the line following a driving maul to give her side the lead.

Niamh Briggs landed the resulting conversion to put the Irish 7-0 ahead, under the watchful eye of Ireland men's head coach Joe Schmidt, who had made the trip to France for the historic occasion.

That was as good as it got for the girls in green, though, as the English machine clicked into gear following that initial scare.

Less than 10 minutes later Rochelle Clark picked up and dived over the line after Sarah Hunter had been stopped just short, before Katherine Merchant capitalised on a 50 metre break from Emily Scarratt to cross the line again.

Scarratt was beginning to stamp her authority on the game, and despite failing to land her first conversion attempt, she added two penalties and a conversion to give England an 18-7 halftime lead.

Two more Scarratt penalties and a Kay Wilson try had England more or less out of sight midway through the second half as the Red Roses began to show their power and pace.

With his side comfortably ahead, England coach Gary Street made a number of changes to keep his squad fresh for the final on Sunday (August 17) and replacement flanker Marlie Packer capitalised on a tiring Irish defence to pick up two late tries which were converted by Ceri Large to seal a 40-7 win.

Emily Scarratt bursts through the Irish defence during her side's emphatic win over their neighbours in Paris ©Getty ImagesEmily Scarratt bursts through the Irish defence during her side's emphatic win over their neighbours in Paris ©Getty Images

"We're delighted with the performance, I think that the scoreline reflects the fact that we really did turn up on the day and we performed really well," said England captain Katy Mclean, as England recorded their 21st win from 22 meetings with their old rivals.

"I'm 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."

England, who won the title in 1994, will now play in their sixth Women's World Cup decider and they will take on Canada, who reached their first by upsetting hosts France 18-16.

In a bruising first-half, Sandrine Agricole and Magali Harvey swapped two penalties apiece to leave the sides level at the break.

France had not conceded a try throughout the tournament, but that statistic was soon wiped as the Canadians made an explosive start to the second period.

The alert Elissa Alarie spotted a hole in the home defence to dart over.

Harvey missed the conversion but she made amends three minutes later when she displayed a clean pair of heels to race 80 metres down the pitch before side-stepping Christelle Le Duff for a superb try.

Harvey composed herself and got her breath back to slot over the conversion and put the Canadians on the verge of an historic win.

Canadian players celebrate their historic win over France at the Stade Jean Bouin ©Getty ImagesCanadian players celebrate their historic win over France at the Stade Jean Bouin
©Getty Images

But the French were not going down without a fight and roared on by a partisan crowd they powered over the line through Assa Koita and Safi N'Diaye, but it was not to be as Agricole could not convert either score after which the Canadians withstood a late onslaught to hang on for the win.

"I can't stop smiling, it's just a huge rush of adrenalin," said Harvey.

I'm not realising it fully now but I soon will."

In the day's other matches, dethroned champions New Zealand secured a 63-7 win over Wales to set up a fifth place decider against the United States, who overcame Australia 23-20.

In the other classification matches, South Africa defeated Samoa 25-24 while Spain inflicted an 18-5 loss on Kazakhstan.

The last day of action in Paris on Sunday will see the final classification matches take place before the third- place play-off, followed by the decider at the Stade Jean Bouin.

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