England gained some revenge for their third successive defeat in a Women’s Rugby World Cup final by New Zealand with a 10-0 victory over the Black Ferns at Twickenham on Saturday in the first of three Tests in a week.
Maggie Alphonsi, one of the standout players at last year’s World Cup as England lost 13-10 to the Black Ferns in the final, scored the only try of the match in the 30th minute with captain Katy McLean adding the conversion and a second half penalty.
England, who ran out 10-3 winners when the sides last met at Twickenham in November 2009, enjoyed the better of the possession and territory in a traditional tight battle between the top two teams in women’s rugby.
The Red Roses had gone close to scoring before Alphonsi powered her way over the line, but the Black Ferns defence held firm and the world champions were able to clear their lines and remain within a single score at half-time.
The match was always going to be a big challenge for New Zealand, being their first international match since the World Cup final in September 2010 and pitting them against an English side with 10 matches under their belt in the same period.
Bigger and stronger threat
New Zealand had their chances after the break with wing Renee Wickliffe fashioning a great attack out of nothing, only to lose the ball with the line in sight after a try-saving from England centre Emily Scarratt.
A number of uncharacteristic mistakes in the match ultimately proved costly and the Black Ferns will be eager to set the record straight when the sides meet against at Esher RFC on Tuesday evening.
“Fourteen months of sheer hard work and preparation went into today’s performance,” admitted England coach Gary Street. “We were not satisfied with our performance in the World Cup final and we had a point to prove as much to ourselves as anyone.
“We played some good expansive rugby and our big players stood up and put the work in all over the park. It feels great that all our hard work has paid off today.
“All that said this is the start of a three-Test series against the world champions. Although I think we dominated most of the game and a lot of the areas, we have to keep this performance and momentum going.
"There is nothing more dangerous in sport than a wounded world champion. There is no doubt that New Zealand will be back fighting after Saturday’s defeat so we need to up our game as well and we have every intention of doing that.”