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England "We came to New Zealand to play the best"

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rfu.com and James Mortimer     21 Jul 2013     Getty Images

The four-try New Zealand win cemented a 3-0 series whitewash for the world champions against England, who failed to execute the form they showed in the 2011 and 2012 series' against the Black Ferns in England.

England Head Coach Gary Street said: “This is obviously not the way we wanted to finish the tour but there are still parts of the game that we were pleased with and there are positives. We came here to see where we are 12 months away from the World Cup. To come to New Zealand and play the best opposition around gives us a real indicator of where we are and what we have to do before August 2013.

“We have been up and down a little in this series and that was obvious in this game. In the first half we got punished for missing tackles and in the second half we came out and dominated long bits of possession and ball but we weren’t sharp enough. They are all things we have to work on over the next 12 months. We are constantly striving to improve and we’ll ensure that happens.”

After Tuesday’s 14-9 defeat at Waikato Stadium, which the Black Ferns secured only in injury time, England looked like they meant business from the first whistle. Street’s side made a good start driving New Zealand back from the kick off, including a 20-metre rolling maul, and in the end the Black Ferns were penalised by the referee and England were awarded the penalty. Vice-captain Katy Mclean slotted home the three points with ease.

New Zealand, however, were clearly having none of England’s fine start and immediately bounced back with their superb backline of Renee Wickcliffe, Amira Rule, Selica Winiata and Portia Woodman in fine form. In the end centre Claire Richardson barged through on the right wing to score New Zealand’s first try of the afternoon. With fly half Kelly Brazier adding the extras the home side took a 7-3 lead after seven minutes.

The Black Ferns continued to look dangerous and their forwards were now impressing, making some good carries to pin England back in their own 22. They couldn’t make the chances count initially though and Brazier missed two penalties as well.

But in the end New Zealand’s menacing waves of attack paid off when they took the ball out wide from a 50-metre scrum, through the hands of Winiata and Woodman, and then Brazier set up flanker Aroha Savage, who bounded through England’s defence with relative ease. Brazier added the conversion to make it 17-3 25 minutes in. Despite both New Zealand and England having chances before the break neither side made them count and England remained 14 points adrift.

The second half proved better hunting ground for England initially and they once again started off as the better side. Flanker Marlie Packer, one of the stand-out players of the series, made a superb 40-metre break to put England close but it wasn’t to be this time. A 45th-minute line-out catch and drive worked well for England though and prop Rochelle Clark popped out from the side of a maul to score a much needed try on her 50th cap. Mclean couldn’t convert though and England were left trailing 8-17.

Once again New Zealand were not down and out for long and another great break by wing Woodman with full back Winiata in support saw Winiata finish the move off in style and score on 53 minutes.

England brought on fresh legs with Emma Croker, Sally Tuson, Emily Braund and Harrier Millar-Mills on the field and the likes of Kat Merchant and Tuson continued to threaten but they couldn’t make it work. Skipper Sarah Hunter and Braund too made some good carries in New Zealand’s 22 but in the end their chances were thwarted as New Zealand continued to turn England over.

As the clock wound down, despite England showing tremendous heart they were punished one more time with replacement Kendra Cocksedge going over for an injury-time score. Cocksedge added her own conversion handing the Black Ferns the 29-8 victory and a 3-0 series win.