The world’s top two women’s sides go head-to-head for the second time in a week on Sunday
Red Roses v Black Ferns Preview and How To Watch
This time next year both England and New Zealand will hope to be preparing for the Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park. More pressing on the agenda, though, is this Sunday’s meeting between the world’s top two women’s sides in Northampton.
Franklin’s Gardens stages the second and final Test of this series. The Red Roses were emphatic winners in the first match at Exeter’s Sandy Park, not only inflicting the heaviest-ever defeat on the Black Ferns but destroying the visitors’ set-piece.
The inability of the Kiwi pack to deliver first-phase ball for their backs meant they struggled to make an impact in attack.
Of course, that was New Zealand’s first Test in more than two years, the pandemic severely impacting their schedule, and they surely can’t be as rusty this weekend. Yet seven days is not a long time to fix all the issues that caused a 31-point defeat.
Yes, New Zealand will be better but good enough to beat an England team that is not only clicking in attack but has also become a dominant force at scrum time once more after struggling in that facet during the Six Nations? Probably not. Either way, it should be another fascinating Test match.
Below you’ll find all the details you need in our Red Roses v Black Ferns preview.
What’s the big team news?
Both coaches have made changes for this second Test.
For England, there are five personnel changes to the starting XV and two positional shifts as Simon Middleton looks to give more players the chance to experience playing against the Black Ferns.
Poppy Cleall moves from lock to No 8 and will captain the side, Vickii Cornborough and Amy Cokayne get the nod in the front row, and Alex Matthews starts at blindside as Zoe Aldcroft moves up to the second row.
In the backs, last week’s Player of the Match Zoe Harrison has new players either side of her. Leanne Infante (nee Riley) starts at scrum-half and Helena Rowland comes in at inside-centre as England trial a dual playmaker axis. Harrison and Rowland had previously been vying for the No 10 shirt so it will be interesting to see how they fare as a double act.
Glenn Moore has made six changes to his Black Ferns line-up. The headline selection is Portia Woodman on the wing. It’s her first Test since the 2017 World Cup final – in the four years since she has won numerous titles in sevens as well as had a long spell om the sidelines with injury.
Elsewhere in the backs, Cheyelle Robins-Reti makes her Test debut at full-back and Grace Brooker comes in at inside-centre.
Up front, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u replaces the injured Dhys Faleafaga at No 8, while Grace Houpapa-Barrett and Joanah Ngan-Woo have been tasked with fixing a malfunctioning lineout as they start at hooker and lock respectively.
What have the coaches said?
Red Roses head coach Middleton: “We know this weekend is another huge game but it’s one we’ve prepared well for in Northampton and it’s that preparation that gives us the confidence and belief that we can perform not only to the same level but hopefully even higher this weekend.
“We’ve made a number of changes to the starting XV as it’s important the broader squad are exposed to rugby at the very highest level.
“Playing against New Zealand is always a big occasion. They have quality players across their group and like us are fiercely proud of playing for their country, make no mistake this weekend will be tougher than last but we are more than ready.”
Black Ferns head coach Glenn Moore: “We were rusty. We were put under the pump at the line out and that limited the platform we had to work off so a lot of effort has gone into that this week.
“Also, the breakdown is an area we usually pride ourselves on and that was rusty too so there has been some honest conversations around how we need to improve.”
What time is kick-off and is it on TV?
The match will kick-off at 2.45pm (UK & Ireland time) on Sunday 7 November at Franklin’s Gardens.
France’s Aurelie Groizeleau is referee for this fixture, with Aimee Barrett-Theron and Doriane Domenjo her assistants, and Eric Gauzins the TMO.
The match will be televised live on BBC Two in the UK, with coverage starting at 2.20pm.
In New Zealand, Red Roses v Black Ferns will be shown live on Sky Sport NZ 1 – but it will involve a late night (or early start) given the time difference. It’s a 3.45am kick-off NZ time.
The Test is also available to watch in the USA on FloRugby. A FloRugby monthly subscription costs $29.99 and the annual subscription is $150.
If you’re overseas when this match takes place, you can get your normal live stream but you’ll need a VPN. Check out Express VPN.
What are the line-ups?
Red Roses: Ellie Kildunne; Lydia Thompson, Holly Aitchison, Helena Rowland, Abby Dow; Zoe Harrison, Leanne Infante; Vickii Cornborough, Amy Cokayne, Sarah Bern, Zoe Aldcroft, Abbie Ward, Alex Matthews, Marlie Packer, Poppy Cleall (captain).
Replacements: Lark Davies, Hannah Botterman, Maud Muir, Harriet Millar-Mills, Sarah Hunter, Claudia MacDonald, Lagi Tuima, Sarah McKenna.
Black Ferns: Cheyelle Robins-Reti; Portia Woodman, Stacey Fluhler, Grace Brooker, Ayesha Leti-I’iga; Ruahei Demant, Kendra Cocksedge; Pip Love, Grace Houpapa-Barrett, Aleisha-Pearl Nelson, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Kelsie Wills, Alana Bremner, Les Elder (captain), Liana Mikaele-Tu’u.
Replacements: Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Aldora Itunu, Amy Rule, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Kennedy Simon, Ariana Bayler, Patricia Maliepo, Carla Hohepa.
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