England Women star in New Zealand with win in final Test of series
By Mark Ashenden
Last Updated: 17/06/17 12:53pm
England Women remained unbeaten on their New Zealand tour after beating the hosts 29-21 in the final Test of the international rugby series.
Playing before the British and Irish Lions' match against New Zealand Maori at a wet Rotorua International Stadium, the Red Roses produced a powerful second-half show to follow up their wins over Australia and Canada.
The tourists took an early lead when Emily Scarratt crossed over, only for the Black Ferns to hit back with Kendra Cocksedge scoring a fine individual try and Portia Woodman then intercepting and racing clear.
Abbie Scott went over on the stroke of half-time for England to level the scores at 14-14 to set up a nervy second half.
Further tries from Lydia Thompson, Marlie Packer and Vicky Fleetwood piled on the pressure, but still the hosts kept pushing with Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali touching down at the death.
But the English held on for a memorable victory to secure their third win in as many matches.
It was a sterling performance in testing conditions and wrapped up the perfect preparation ahead of the 2017 World Cup, which starts on August 9 in Ireland.
England Women head coach Simon Middleton said: "We've got a clear way in which we want to play and we've invested a lot of time in being able to control field position as well as being able to control possession.
"With the weather as it was tonight, we knew what we needed to put in place. We've got some great kickers of the ball and a lot of energy on the field and that came good for us.
"With analysis, we can look at what we have to improve on but we needed to give everything tonight against the best side in the world and we've done that and so are rightfully very happy and very proud."
Both teams went into the final Test undefeated, with England having beaten Australia 10-53 in Wellington and a hard fought 20-27 victory over Canada in Christchurch. The Black Ferns were also unbeaten in the Series, overcoming Canada 28-16 and Australia 44-17.
The Red Roses have now won their last nine starts, having landed the Six Nations Grand Slam earlier in the year.
They next head to the World Cup, which kicks off in Dublin with the Red Roses drawn in Pool B alongside Spain, Italy and USA.
Captain Sarah Hunter added: "We have built through the Series and to come out and to put in a performance like that against New Zealand is something we're very pleased and happy about."