England Women secure convincing win against New Zealand in Northampton
England Women ran out comfortable 56-15 winners against New Zealand at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday afternoon.
It is the first time England have secured back-to-back wins over New Zealand since 2012, and stretches their unbeaten run to 16 matches.
The Black Ferns showed their intent to attack early on, opting to run the ball out of their half from kick off, but staunch English defence thwarted their ambition.
It took eight minutes for the Red Roses to get on the scoreboard, and it came in the familiar form of a rolling maul, Amy Cokayne the benefactor at the back.
Ellie Kildunne bagged England’s second just moments later, as the Black Ferns struggled to deal with Leanne Infante’s quick service at each ruck that edged closer to their line. Fizzing passes saw the ball moved through hands, and into the path of Kildunne, who went over. Fly-half Zoe Harrison converted both efforts for a 14-0 lead.
Simon Middleton’s charges were then awarded a penalty try on the 16-minute mark, as New Zealand's scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge was yellow carded for deliberately knocking on an Infante pass to Lydia Thompson that would have seen the winger score.
The Black Ferns showed moments of promise through wingers Ayesha Leti-I’iga and Portia Woodman, only for handling errors to spoil their good work, whilst the Red Roses continued to be stubborn in the scrum, accurate at the line out and relentless in their attack off of both.
England forced the game to be played deep inside the visitors' territory, and on the stroke of half-time Cokayne powered over for her second try, a carbon copy of her first, and Harrison slotted the extras to give the Red Roses a 28-point lead at the break.
The second half started exactly how the first ended, with a Red Roses try off the back of a five metre lineout, and it was Cokayne's hat trick score. Harrison's conversion was good.
From the restart Grace Houpapa-Barrett spurred the Black Ferns into action with a rampaging run down England's left flank. It was their first visit into the red zone, and they left with points - Woodman was found wide in space to dot down in the corner.
She was the catalyst behind their try, but Houpapa-Barrett overthrew a five metre lineout into the ever-aware Infante, who duly collected and fell over the whitewash for England's sixth score. Harrison's boot made it 42-5.
A converted Lark Davies try in the 65th minute extended England's lead by 44 points. Replacement Sarah McKenna was later shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on.
The Black Ferns scored another - courtesy of Stacey Fluhler - but Abby Dow struck back with a try of her own. Woodman crossed again in the final play of the Test, but it was a consolation score, as the game finished 56-15.
England head coach Simon Middleton said: “We’re really pleased with the result and performance today.
"Over the last two weeks we’ve shown we’ve developed in many areas and we played some great passages of play today.
"We saw glimpses from the Black Ferns too, especially in the way they finished the game.
"We know there are areas we need to improve on and we will work on those.
“Our upcoming matches against Canada and the USA will be good for us and the wider squad.
“We’ve come up against a very strong side over the last two weeks and this is a really good starting point. I’m delighted."
Player of the match Amy Cokayne said: "Coming into the series we knew playing them back-to-back was going to be tough, and even after the result last week we knew they were going to come back firing.
"As a forward pack we spoke all week about having to back up our performances and so to do it again this week is huge for us.
"It’s always a bit lucky being a hooker and getting on the end of driving mauls, they are not stunning tries, but as a forward pack we will definitely take them.
"The Black Ferns are a great side, so to put 50 points on them is huge, it goes to show the hard work we have been putting in and support we have received."
England captain Poppy Cleall said: "The scoreline is what we hoped for, and we've come away with it.
"From a forwards point a view it was great that we backed up our driving maul.
"We want to be a pack that gets those moments and takes them.
"We're here to make sure we push ourselves as hard as we can and we're doing that justice.
"Today was a hugely proud moment for me and my career, I couldn't have wished for more.
"I have to thank the girls out there for having my back the whole 80 minutes and I hope we've made everyone proud."
1. Vickii Cornborough, 2. Amy Cokayne, 3. Sarah Bern, 4. Zoe Aldcroft, 5. Abbie Ward, 6. Alex Matthews, 7. Marlie Packer, 8. Poppy Cleall (c), 9. Leanne Infante (vc), 10. Zoe Harrison, 11. Abby Dow, 12. Helena Rowland, 13. Holly Aitchison, 14. Lydia Thompson, 15. Ellie Kildunne.
16. Lark Davies, 17. Hannah Botterman, 18. Maud Muir, 19. Harriet Millar-Mills, 20. Sarah Hunter, 21. Claudia MacDonald, 22. Lagi Tuima, 23. Sarah McKenna.
1. Phillipa Love, 2. Grace Houpapa-Barrett, 3. Aleisha-Pearl Nelson, 4. Joanah Ngan-Woo, 5. Kelsie Wills, 6. Alana Bremner, 7. Les Elder (c), 8. Liana Mikaele-Tu'u, 9. Kendra Cocksedge, 10. Ruahei Demant, 11. Ayesha Leti-I’iga, 12. Grace Brooker, 13. Stacey Fluhler, 14. Portia Woodan, 15. Cheyelle Robins-Reti.
16. Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, 17. Aldora Itunu, 18. Amy Rule, 19. Maiakawanakaulani Roos, 20. Kennedy Simon, 21. Ariana Bayler, 22. Patricia Maliepo, 23. Carla Hohepa.