English women shatter New Zealand Black Ferns
by Huw Turner
June 16, 2001

England scored a dramatic 22-17 victory over the New Zealand Black Ferns at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday evening, thus ending the home side's 10 year unbeaten record.

This was a well deserved victory, based on the solid platform of the English forwards, particularly at the lineout. The Black Ferns will be disappointed, their lack of preparation for this two match series clear in the disjointed nature of much of their play.

England made a poor start, knocking on the kick off and then conceding a penalty at the resulting scrum for not binding correctly. Unfortunately for New Zealand, Tammi Wilson's kick at goal was weak and fell beneath the bar.

The England scrum was under early pressure but Frost was able to clean up and establish a promising attacking position. A clever kick through fromYapp threatened the Black Ferns' line until Shelford cleared.

A series of powerful drives from the Black Ferns forwards then put the English under pressure , Tammi Wilson benefiting from Richards' angled run and dummy to fly in beneath the posts for the opening score of the game. Wilson converted her own try.

Terrific line out play and mauling allowed England to hit back immediately, they made good ground on the left to scatter the defence , then weak tackling allowed Nicky Crawford to slide in on the right as the direction of the play was switched.

England found themselves under further pressure as Ferns' forwards and backs combined through several phases to stretch the defence, but scrambling defence saved the day. New Zealand then should have scored as Shortland scythed through the England defence but the drizzle was making handling increasingly difficult and the chance went begging. But clever set piece play and decoy running in midfield gave Vanessa Cootes a clear overlap on the left and she scored easily.

An infringement on the floor gave Shelley Rae a penalty chance from 35 metres and her kick sailed over to reduce the deficit. Another penalty gave Rae an immediate chance to push her side down the right touch line. The game then became bogged down in the middle of the field as both sides struggled with the greasy ball. The deadlock was broken by Cheryl Waaka charging down a kick and threatening the England line on the left. Rae cleared the lines with a good kick down the right.

With half time approaching , the English forwards showed clear signs of getting the upper hand, their well-drilled set plays giving them quick ball from which to establish good field positions. A high tackle by England lock Jenny Sutton gave Tammi Wilson the chance to end the half by extending the New Zealand lead , but her kick drifted wide to leave the score 12-8 at half time. Everything to play for in the second half with the sides well matched and try scoring opportunities few and far between.

The second half started with the Ferns in an urgent frame of mind. A tight head at a scrum deep in English territory gave Waaka the chance to attack before the defence stifled her run. England went offside at a ruck and the Ferns' forwards drove on, inching nearer until the ball was lost forward metres from the line.

As the tempo increased, play surged from end to end with neither side really gaining the upper hand. With England threatening on the left, Paula George squandered a good chance by throwing a forward pass , but a tighthead at the ensuing scrum put the visitors back on attack. A promising drive from a lineout was undermined by a knock-on.

A thrilling dash by Emily Feltham up the right was matched by a solid Cootes tackle , but England seemed to be getting the ascendancy. A penalty against Exia Shelford gave the English a line out in a dangerous position, the ball was won and Shelley Rae weaved her way through the defence to give her side the lead.Rae's conversion extended the lead to 3 points.

With the Black Ferns behind they set out to put the ball wide, but their handling proved to be inaccurate. However, a lineout steal set up the drive and Shortland put Annaleah Rush in on the right to regain the lead. The Ferns then camped on the English line, their scrum pushing the English all over the place, a searing Wilson break posing a threat with 5 minutes left. The pressure was sustained but a sensational break out up the left saw Emily Feltham race away from the half way line to score beneath the posts . 22-17 with minutes left.

Frantic attack and defence ended in a New Zealand penalty but the English held on for a famous victory.


Scorers

Black Ferns : 17 : Tries : Wilson, Cootes, Rush Conversion : Wilson :

England : 22 Tries : Crawford, Rae, Feltham Conversions : Rae (2) : Penalties :Rae

Tammi Wilson, Vanessa Cootes, Annaleah Rush, Suzy Shortland, Exia Shelford, Anna Richards, Monique Hirovaana, Cheryl Waaka, Melodie Robinson, Rochelle Martin, Victoria Heighway, Fiona King, Rebecca Liua'ana, Farah Palmer ( captain), Regina Sheck

Replacements : Suzy Dawson, Poinisitia Paasi, Rhonda Kay, Tala Mulipola, Jacinta Nielson, Neroli Knight, Amiria Marsh, Sandie Yates.

England

Paula George ( captain), Nicola Crawford, Selena Rudge, Assunta De Baise, Emily Feltham, Shelley Rae, Joanna Yapp, Jennifer Richards, Claire Frost, Georgia Stevens, Theresa Andrews, Jennifer Sutton, Amy Garnett, Theresa O'Reilly, Vanessa Huxford

Replacements : Nicola Goodwin, Jennifer Smith, Gillian Burns, Helen Clayton, Susie Appleby, Nicola Jupp, Eilidh

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