By Ali Donnelly
England have beaten New Zealand for only the second time in their history with a 10-3 victory at Twickenham.
Having lost the first test last weekend, England were determined that they wouldnt leave the great stadium empty handed and the victory over the world champions will have handed the home side a huge boost just 9 months out from the World Cup.
A crowd of around 12,000 packed into Twickenhams west stand as the rain teemed down but those who stayed after the mens game to watch were rewarded by an entertaining game in tough conditions.
New Zealand owned the ball for the first 15 minutes as they hammered away at the fringes however the home teams defence was solid enough to contain the sustained pressure in the opening
At scrum time England looked extremely comfortable with captain Catherine Spencer managing to make good ground when she broke from number 8.
New Zealand almost managed to make their pressure pay early on when an Emily Scarratt kick was blocked down but the young fullback just about managed to touch the greasy ball down over the line.
Finding no way through the England defence, the Black Ferns then took a 3-0 lead after outhalf Rebecca Mahoney dropped a net kick over the bar.
England then burst into life with a series of impressive plays with first Claire Allen breaking and offloading to Claire Purdy who charged towards the line, before the ball was recycled through Heather Fisher and then eventually Katie Mclean (pictured left) slipped a lovely pass to Spencer whose early form was rewarded with well taken try.
McLean knocked over the convertion to give England a deserved 7-3 lead after their ambitious attacking was rewarded.
Significantly that was the first try New Zealand had conceded on their three test tour having conceded just 6 points in two games this week.
The score didnt deter the Black Ferns though who pushed right back into the England 22 and a quick tapped penalty from Emma Jenson had England scrambling but they recovered.
Englands backrow of Heather Fisher, Spencer and Maggie Alphonsi then started to dominate the tight play as the home team took a 7-3 lead into the break.
England came out firing after the turnaround and solid pressure deep in New Zealands half allowed McLean to kick a drop-goal which needed the aid of the bar to go over but gave her team a 10-3 lead.
It was no less a lead than England deserved as though New Zealand had plenty of possession, the hosts were managing to turn their pressure into points far more effectively.
Super breaks downfield by first Kat Merchant and then deeper in New Zealands half by Heather Fisher had the crowd on their feet, as England showed they werent afraid to use space and play New Zealand at their own game.
Both sides used their benches liberally in the second half with Fiona Pocock in particular for England slotting in well with her sides plan to use width quickly.
England continued to control the match as the clock wound down. Their wide play was impressive and McLean was calling the shots well at 10. New Zealand had ball but were forced to chase the game which meant they were harried at times into making wrong decisions. Linda Itunu and Fiaoo Faamausili made some good ground up front and New Zealands maul was effective but it was nothing England couldnt manage well.
The visitors were simply not allowed to play their natural running game as a combination of the poor conditions and New Zealands tough rearguard made life tough for them at Twickenham.
Anika Tiplady had couple of shots at goal to redress the balance but the first was a tough shot from some distance and the second sailed just wide with around 8 minutes remaining.
England continued to defend well as New Zealand played out the clock desperate for a score but with Claire Allen and co making some great hits in the backs there was to be no way through.
The win means that England will look forward with relish to a season ahead which will include a Six Nations and a World Cup.
More reaction to follow.
New Zealand: Kelly Brazier,Victoria Grant, Huriana Manuel, Amiria Rule, Carla Hohepa, Rebecca Mahoney, Emma Jensen, Ruth McKay, Fiaoo Faamausili, Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox,,Vita Robinson, Victoria Heighway (captain), Casey Robertson, Justine Lavea, Linda Itunu,
Replacements: Beth Mallard (for Ruth McKay, 20), Kimberly Smith (for Vita Robinson 52), Renee Wickliffe (for Kelly Brazier 52), Anika Tiplady (for Carla Hohepa 55), Olivia Coady (for Casey Robertson 65), Kendra Cocksedge (for Emma Jenson 64)
England: Emily Scarratt, Katherine Merchant, Claire Allan, Rachael Burford, Charlotte Barras, Katy Mclean, Amy Turner, Claire Purdy, Amy Garnett, Sophie Hemming, Rebecca Essex, Joanna McGilchrist, Heather Fisher, Margaret Alphonsi Saracens, Catherine Spencer,
Replacements:Tamara Taylor (for Becky Essex 40), Alice Richardson (for Rachel Burford 40) , Fiona Pocock (for Charlotte Barras 55), Rosemarie Crowley (for Claire Purdy 60), Jane Leonard (for Heather Fisher 65), Sam Reeve (for Amy Garnett 68), Georgina Rozaria (for Amy Turner 75)
Images (c) Ilona O'Donnell
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