Black Ferns draw third and final test with England

Getty Images

James Mortimer     06 Dec 2011     Getty Images

The New Zealand woman were clearly intent on avoiding a series whitewash, but despite leading for most of the match, a try from England substitute Natasha Hunt in the 55th minute gave the home team a leveler which they were able to hold on to until the end of the match.

Left wing Renee Wickliffe gave the Black Ferns the early lead, while unlike previous test matches in this series, the visitors were able to match the fury of England’s opening onslaught.

England first five-eighth Katy McLean opened the scoring before the Black Ferns recorded their first account via Wickliffe, a long attacking movement which started on the halfway line.

Further to this was England's inability to add points, while Black Ferns fullback Hazel Tubic was sinbinned for a careless foot trip, giving New Zealand an 8-3 advantage at halftime.

They two powerhouse women's teams looked like they might fight out for a scrappy draw, with England mounting pressure on the Black Ferns' tryline, before the Red Rose hit back with their only try via some good forward play.

The Black Ferns looked as if they might have enough at the death to win the match, almost scoring a try when Tubic almost put Victoria Grant into space, but they were denied before yet another promising attack play out wide broke down and denied the World Champions.

New Zealand have never before lost back-to-back internationals, lost a series so heavily or been prevented from scoring in a test match – so the 1-2 series defeat represents a historic step backwards for the Black Ferns.

England Head Coach Gary Street was thrilled.

"If I had been offered two wins and a draw against the world champions ten days ago I would have happily taken that result, so even though today’s performance wasn’t our best, I am happy,” he said.

"I think maybe winning the series 2-0 on Tuesday may have taken the edge off us today but the players showed real resilience to level the match after going behind in the first half.

"We have learned so much about ourselves since the world cup final 15 months ago but really this is just the starting point of where this England team can go. Having 12 players in Dubai for the IRB 7s where the team got to the final and six of our first choice players out injured, means that we are starting to show the real strength in depth we have got.

"We have been able to give massive opportunities to some youngsters in this series who have come through with flying colours and with two months to go before the Six Nations starts we are in good shape.

"I would also like to pay tribute to our backroom staff that have done an amazing job and worked tirelessly in getting three squads out in seven days which is a real achievement."

England Women

15 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Rachael Burford (Richmond), 12 Alice Richardson (Richmond), 11 Kay Wilson (Bristol), 10 Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) (C), 9 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 1 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 2 Amy Turner (Richmond), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 5 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 6 Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens) (VC), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield).

Replacements: 16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17 Laura Keates (Worcester), 18 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 19 Marlie Packer (Bristol), 20 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), 21 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol), 22 Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks).

Tries: Hunt
Penalties: McLean

New Zealand Women

15 Hazel Tubic, 14 Victoria Grant (C), 13 Shakira Baker, 12 Teresa Te Tamaki, 11 Renee Wickliffe, 10 Kelly Brazier, 9 Kendra Cocksedge, 1 Kathleen Wilton, 2 Karina Penetito, 3 Stephanie TeOhaere-Fox, 4 Vita Robinson, 5 Eloise Blackwell, 6 Lydia Crossman, 7 Justine Lavea, 8 Casey Robertson.

Replacements: 16 Doris Taufateau, 17 Muteremoana Aiatu, 18 Amanda Murphy, 19 Rawina Everitt, 20 Emma Jensen, 21 Rebecca Mah oney, 22 Katarina Whata

Tries: Wickliffe,
Penalties: Brazier

England Autumn International Series

Nov 26: England v New Zealand, Twickenham Stadium, WON 10-0
Nov 29: England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, KO 7pm, WON 21-7
Dec 3: England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, DRAW 8-8