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Confident Black Ferns claim first Test in International Series

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Sportal.co.nz     13 Jul 2013     Getty Images

It was New Zealand's first win over England in seven outings in a game where the hosts persevered despite some defensive dominance from the visitors for the first three quarters of the match.

From there they were able to set Eden Park alight with two tries in quick succession to seal a confidence building start to the three-Test International Series.

Playing for the first at Eden Park since 2005, it took both teams a considerable amount of time to shake off the rust. Both full strength sides hadn't played since the last time the two teams met, when England defeated the world champions in three Tests in December 2012.

From there, however, both sides were able to make their way into the opposition's half with some strong running and accurate passes.

England's forwards dined out on some disappointing New Zealand lineouts, while both sides were also guilty of dropping the ball too frequently for their own liking.

What the match lacked in accuracy it made up for in entertainment as the match began to open up in the second half.

In the end, however, it was some spirited defending from the world champions that saw them edge their opponents in the first of three Tests.

England will be disappointed given their side's dominance at set piece time, with captain Sarah Hunter leading from the back of the scrum. Despite a couple of missed attempts, England first-five Katy McLean orchestrated the English backs well.

Despite a crucial knock on that got England back into the match, New Zealand No.8 Casey Robertson had an outstanding match and looked dangerous whenever she carried the ball from the back of the scrum. Woodman, too, looked dangerous and proved her wares with some strong tackles as the last defender.

New Zealand's next match against England takes place at Waikato Stadium on Tuesday before a showdown on Saturday at Pukekohe's ECOLight Stadium.

Woodman's try gave New Zealand an 8-0 lead after the opening quarter before a moment of madness got England back into the game after 31 minutes.

A disappointing kick to England first five-eighths and former captain, Katy McLean, landed a few metres short and wide of the goalposts only for Robertson to knock it on.

England scored almost immediately from the ensuing scrum and reduced the deficit to 7-8, which was how it remained for the rest of the first half.

Both sides looked to attack in the second half, with England having the better of the opportunities only for some poor handling to once again get in the way.

New Zealand continued to play the game at pace as England started to tire. Wing Renee Wickliffe's break proved the catalyst for another England penalty which Brazier duly converted to increase New Zealand's lead to seven points with some 10 minutes to play.

New Zealand were far from done there as Amiria Rule and Justine Lavea scored in quick succession to leave England tired, disappointed and staring at their first defeat in seven outings. The streak has ended.

New Zealand 29 (Portia Woodman, Amiria Rule, Justine Lavea tries; Kelly Brazier con, 3 pen) England 10 (Marlie Packer try; Katy McLean con, pen) HT: 8-7