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England claim series whitewash against Black Ferns

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rfu.com and James Mortimer     03 Dec 2012     Getty Images

Tries from Katherine Merchant (2), Emily Scarratt, Roz Crowley and Jo Watmore secured the win, while Scarratt added seven points with the boot.

New Zealand started the brighter of the two sides but it was England who drew first blood when wing Merchant went over for her second try of the autumn series after a strong break from centre Joanne Watmore.

England’s second try came with 11 minutes played, good pressure was eventually rewarded when skipper Katy McLean spotted a gap and sent a grubber through for full back Scarratt to touch down. The conversion was successful from Scarratt to give England an early 12-0 lead.

The Black Ferns soon found their feet and second row Rawina Everitt scored her side’s first try of the evening after smart play from the backs, but England responded superbly and were rewarded with their third try with 23 minutes played, Merchant again on hand to glide over the whitewash.

New Zealand reduced the deficit to seven when full back Kelly Brazier slotted over a penalty but England’s fourth try came five minutes before the break. Front row Roz Crowley was on hand to round off a strong break from the home side and Scarratt’s conversion made the score 24-10.

Photo: rugbymatters.net
But it was the visitors who got the final score of the half. With England’s Heather Fisher sent to the sin bin, New Zealand made the most of their one woman advantage and scored with the last play of the half through Selica Winiata.

Brazier got the first points of the second half for New Zealand with a tricky penalty but they too were reduced to 14 when Aroha Savage was sent to the sin bin. England capitalised on the extra player and a quick turn of pace from Watmore freed up space and she dived over for her second try in as many games.

A penalty from Scarratt extended the lead to 14 points but with ten minutes to play New Zealand pulled it back to nine after Kiwi fly half Kendra Cocksedge showed good strength to put the ball down over the line to make it 32-23.

But England held firm and are now unbeaten in six games against the world champions.

Head Coach Gary Street: “Obviously we’re hugely delighted to have won here at Twickenham and to wrap up the series in front of a big home crowd. The players, as a group, were once again outstanding and they showed tremendous mental strength to get through this series and win it 3-0.

“There is a lot of trust in this group and that shows every time a squad member pulls on the England shirt. We may not have won a world cup for many years but we are definitely the number one side in the world at the moment.”