England Women 13-28 New Zealand Women: Renee Wickliffe hat-trick denies Red Roses Super Series title
Black Ferns remain No 1 in the world as England are denied top spot
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 15/07/19 10:34am
New Zealand snatched the 2019 Women's Super Series from England after a dominant 28-13 win in San Diego on Sunday.
In a repeat of the 2017 World Cup final, the Red Roses were denied the chance to move to No 1 in the world by their fierce rivals at the State University's Torero Stadium as Renee Wickliffe scored a hat-trick.
Simon Middleton's side headed into the match top of the table on 13 points with three wins from three, beating USA, Canada and France.
The Black Ferns were three points behind, having beaten Canada and USA with bonus points, before being defeated by France in their last outing.
But New Zealand underlined why they remain the team to beat, two years out from the next World Cup, as they showed great resilience to bounce back and claim the trophy.
England have certainly met their match, having suffered just a second loss in 21 Test matches - the last coming against France in the 2018 Six Nations competition.
Middleton's side had been on a wonderful run, and they started brightly in southern California as Emily Scarratt's opening penalty came after Toka Natua's fourth-minute sin bin.
Kendra Cocksedge immediately replied for New Zealand during a frenetic opening, but England made their numerical advantage count as Zoe Harrison found Scarratt for a fine try in the corner.
England's Super Series scores
England 38-5 USA
England 19-17 Canada
England 20-18 France
England 13-28 New Zealand
The Lichfield centre added the two extra points to give the Red Roses a 10-3 lead, but having only played four days ago against France, fatigue began to play a part.
New Zealand scored two tries in the space of three minutes as Wickliffe dotted down from Charmaine McMenamin's pass. A mistake from Sarah Bern gifted Wickliffe a second as the Black Ferns went into the break leading 15-10.
Scarratt closed the gap to just two but from the 50th minute, it was virtually one-way traffic in New Zealand's favour.
A creaking set piece for the Red Roses certainly didn't help matters, but greater intensity in carries and offloads was evident for Glenn Moore's side.
After Cocksedge had re-established the five-point cushion with a pinpoint kick from the tee, a brilliant offload from Theresa Fitzpatrick allowed Wickliffe to complete her hat-trick.
Cocksedge added five more points with the boot as the Black Ferns managed the final 20 minutes and confirmed their status as the best team in the world, pipping England to the title by just a solitary point.
England captain Sarah Hunter said: "We've matured a great deal. We've got quite a young squad. For some, this is their first senior tour, playing teams they've never played against and the best in the world.
"Fair play to New Zealand, they certainly brought it to us, and we just couldn't get a foothold in the game. We'll learn plenty from it, but it doesn't feel like that at the minute."