England beat world champions 56-15 at Franklin’s Gardens


Red Roses complete series win over Black Ferns

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’. Another week, another record win for the Red Roses over the Black Ferns – and it was their rolling maul that came to the fore at Franklin’s Gardens.

The 56-15 victory extends their winning run to 16 matches and their ruthlessness was evident throughout the 80 minutes.

New Zealand, the world champions, did improve on last week’s rusty display at Sandy Park, their set-piece functioning significantly better, but they had no answer to England’s attack, whether in the tight or loose.

The hosts dominated in every facet but it was the lineout maul that proved their most potent weapon, Amy Cokayne scoring a hat-trick and Lark Davies also getting a try to make it four for the hookers across the match.

Discipline let England down towards the end but there was a real clinical edge to England’s performance; show them the slightest gap and they will take it. They beat last week’s seven-try tally by scoring eight and Zoe Harrison nailed every conversion.

Cokayne opened the scoring in the eighth minute as England attacked from a five-metre lineout drive and less than a handful of minutes later Ellie Kildunne crossed out wide after good build-up work from Poppy Cleall and Sarah Bern.

By the 17-minute mark England were leading 21-0 after the awarding of a penalty try. As Leanne Infante passed to Lydia Thompson in the blindside channel, the ball was knocked on by Kendra Cocksedge as she went to tackle the scrum-half.

The officials ruled this deliberate and Cocksedge was sin-binned while another seven points were added to England’s score.

The Red Roses didn’t get their fourth try until just before the break, though. It was Cokayne again touching down as England’s maul got to work from close range.

The hooker didn’t have to wait long to complete her hat-trick either as another driving maul resulted in another Cokayne try four minutes into the second half.

In contrast, it took the Black Ferns more than 50 minutes to get their first points – and who else but Portia Woodman to score them. She went over in the corner after a concerted spell of pressure in the England 22.

Yet the lineout problems that had dogged the world champions at Sandy Park returned five metres from their own line a few minutes later. The Black Ferns went long with their throw but it was Infante who received the ball and enjoyed a stroll across the line for England’s sixth try.

Lark Davies picked up where Cokayne had left off as the Red Roses’ maul powered forward once again.

New Zealand got their second when the Red Roses were down to 14 players after Sarah McKenna was sin-binned for the same offence as Cocksedge, knocking on a Cheyelle Robins-Reti pass that was routed to Woodman.

From the ensuing penalty, they opted for a lineout, spread the ball wide and Stacey Fluhler dotted down in the corner.

Abby Dow put a final flourish on England’s performance when she broke from halfway to evade Woodman and touch down, while New Zealand had the final say on the scoreboard when Woodman crossed for her second in the same corner as her first.

The Red Roses now take on Canada and the USA in their remaining November fixtures while the Black Ferns head across the Channel for a two-Test series against France. The French beat New Zealand in their most recent meeting in 2019 and will no doubt take confidence from these two England victories.

This series has highlighted the current gulf between the Red Roses and the Black Ferns but will it be quite so wide come the Rugby World Cup next year?

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