England women 32-23 New Zealand

By James StandleyBBC Sport
England women secure series over NZ

England women matched their male counterparts and secured a big win over New Zealand as they sealed a 3-0 series victory over the world champions.

Kat Merchant and Emily Scarratt scored early tries for England before Rawina Everitt crossed for New Zealand.

Further tries from Merchant and Roz Crowley put England 24-10 up before Selica Winiata crossed on half-time.

Jo Watmore added a fifth try and Scarratt's boot did the rest, Kendra Cocksedge's late try mere consolation.

England head coach Gary Street said: "Obviously we're hugely delighted to have won here at Twickenham and to wrap up the series in front of a big home crowd. The players, as a group, were once again outstanding and they showed tremendous mental strength to get through this series and win it 3-0.

"There is a lot of trust in this group and that shows every time a squad member pulls on the England shirt. We may not have won a World Cup for many years but we are definitely the number one side in the world at the moment."

England produced some superb flowing rugby at Twickenham, with the backs profiting from the good work of the forwards to run New Zealand ragged on occasions.

The Black Ferns had the edge in the maul but they could not cope with England's pacy all-round game.

New Zealand showed attacking intent from the off but after early pressure England broke out from their own 22 as Natasha Hunt took a quick tap penalty.

Watmore made good ground, producing a couple of trademark hand-offs, and Merchant supported well to scorch over in the corner.

Three minutes later Scarratt latched onto Katy McLean's neat chip and full-back Scarratt converted her own try to make it 12-0.

New Zealand hit back as Everitt crossed for a converted try but the hosts were soon back on the front foot, with Merchant beating three tacklers and taking another one over the line with her for an unconverted try.

Kelly Brazier landed a penalty for New Zealand as the scoreboard continued to kick over but England had the upper hand and they added a fourth try, converted by Scarratt, as prop Crowley finished off another fine attack.

New Zealand are not world champions for nothing though and, with England down to 14 after Heather Fisher was sin-binned, Winiata scored in the corner to make it 24-15 at half-time.

The visitors cut the gap to six points soon after the restart as Brazier squeezed over a penalty, but that was as close as they would get.

The Black Ferns lost Aroha Savage to the sin-bin and Watmore made them pay with a fine try after an arcing outside break, and Scarratt soon added a penalty to give England a 32-18 lead.

Cocksedge cut the gap for the world champions but England ended the game on top and looked the more likely scorers at the final whistle.

Team line-ups

England: Emily Scarratt; Katherine Merchant, Joanne Watmore, Alice Richardson, Michaela Staniford, Katy McLean, (capt), Natasha Hunt, Roz Crowley, Victoria Fleetwood, Laura Keates, Tamara Taylor, Rowena Burnfield, Heather Fisher, Marlie Packer, Sarah Hunter.

Replacements: Emma Croker (for Victoria Fleetwood 40 mins), Sophie Hemming (for Roz Crowley 49 mins ), Rochelle Clark (for Laura Keates 49 mins), Emily Braund (for Sarah Hunter 67 mins), Hannah Gallagher (for Marlie Packer 56 mins), La Toya Mason (for 9 Natasha Hunt 69 mins), Amber Reed (for Alice Richardson 76 mins), Francesca Matthews (for Michaela Staniford 56 mins).

New Zealand: Kelly Brazier; Selica Winiata, Shakira Baker, Claire Richardson, 11 Hazel Tubic; Kendra Cocksedge, Emma Jensen; Ruth McKay, Fiao'o Fa'amausili (capt), Stephanie TeOhaere-Fox, Eloise Blackwell, Rawina Everitt, Aroha Savage, Justine Lavea, Casey Robertson.

Replacements: 16 Karina Stowers (Auckland), 17 Kathleen Wilton (for 3 Stephanie TeOhaere-Fox 53 mins), 18 Aleisha Nelson (for Kathleen Wilton 76 mins), 19 Jackie Patea (for Eloise Blackwell 58 mins), 20 Lydia Crossman (for Casey Robertson 49 mins) Teresa Te Tamaki (for Emma Jensen 64 mins), 22 Anika Tiplady (Otago), 23 Halie Hurring (for Hazel Tubic 40 mins).

Referee: Sherry Trumball (Canada)

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