THE Black Ferns have lost 17-8 to the England women’s rugby team, and with it, dropped their second consecutive series.
England lost two players to yellow cards and had to hold off heavy pressure from New Zealand, the world champions, but the team featuring nine changes to that which won the first match held firm.
Hannah Gallagher scored in the 18th minute for England, while Joanne Watmore scampered over in the last five minutes to secure the result.
New Zealand’s try came through Shakira Baker early in the encounter.
“Trust is the word we use with all the players,” England coach Gary Street told The Guardian.
“Trust in me with selection, trust in whoever has got the shirt on and trust in whoever is to the left or right of them. That showed in abundance in the way they played and I could not be prouder at the desire and will of the squad. I am going to have another fresh squad to pick from and a lot of selection dilemmas but what I will have is another 15 players who would die for the shirt.”
Despite England playing the last 10 minutes with only 14 players, the Kiwis could not find a way through the English defence, and the hosts put the match out of reach with their late try.
The final match of the series will be at Twickenham on Saturday, after the men play.
New Zealand will be keen to avoid a clean-sweep, while England will want to go one better than last year, where the final test finished in a draw.
Fullback Emily Scarratt said they were motivated by winning all three matches.
“It would be huge for us,” she said.
“Last year we did not quite do it but this year we want to go out there and put a marker down. The 2014 World Cup is not too far around the corner and we want to go out there in the best possible position having wiped away all that mental thing with New Zealand that we just can’t beat. We can beat them and we know we can beat them now.
“They will want to spoil our party at Twickenham but we are all going to step up and we are determined to perform.”