England Women gave up a 17-7 lead to allow New Zealand a 20-25 victory in the Old Mutual Wealth Series at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.
Despite scoring three tries, the Red Roses were unable to hold off the Black Ferns with scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge scoring 20 points including two winning penalties in the final five minutes.
The Red Roses made a convincing start when Fiona Pocock went over in the corner in the second minute to score her 20th try for England.
The Red Roses were on top for much of the first period but they went in at half-time 5-7 down after Renee Wickliffe’s try just before the break and a successful conversion from Cocksedge, who was later awarded player of the match.
England rebuilt at half-time and scored two tries in the space of two minutes through Harriet Millar-Mills and Lydia Thompson, and after Katy Mclean’s conversion the home side found themselves 10 points in front.
However the Black Ferns were not to be outdone and Cocksedge scored two tries in six minutes after the hour mark, successfully converting the second to put her team 19-17 ahead with 14 minutes remaining.
The Red Roses refused to give in and Emily Scarratt knocked over a penalty with seven minutes left to go a single point ahead but Cocksedge kicked two penalties of her own in the closing stages to seal the win.
Head Coach Simon Middleton said: “We are hugely disappointed to lose the game having done enough to win. There were many positives at times but we still have plenty to work on.
“We created enough opportunities to win but we didn’t for a number of reasons and we compounded our errors with penalties and we just didn’t manage our game well enough. At times we were outstanding but you’ve got to be consistent against sides like this.”
Rochelle Clark came off the bench in the 55th minute to become the most capped women’s international player of all time, but it was not enough to inspire a Red Rose win in front of a home crowd of over 4,000.
England Women face Canada at Twickenham on Saturday 26 November with KO at 5.05pm, immediately after the men’s game.
England 20 – New Zealand 25
Tries: Pocock, Millar-Mills, Thompson
England match-day 23 against New Zealand
15 Danielle Waterman (Bristol, 63 caps)
14 Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries, 26 caps)
13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield, 60 caps)
12 Rachael Burford (Aylesford Bulls, 59 caps)
11 Fiona Pocock (Aylesford Bulls, 32 caps, Allan 28)
10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 80 caps, Scott 61)
9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield, 32 caps)
1 Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls, 20 caps, Clark (55))
2 Amy Cokayne (Lichfield, 19 caps)
3 Laura Keates (Worcester Valkyries, 55 caps, Lucas (55))
4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 97 caps)
5 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield, 37 caps)
6 Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol, 23 caps, Fleetwood, 51, Cleall, 68)
7 Marlie Packer (Bristol, 39 caps)
8 Sarah Hunter (Bristol, 84 caps) (c)
16 Emma Croker (Richmond, 63 caps)
17 Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries, 116 caps)
18 Justine Lucas (Lichfield, 14 caps)
19 Poppy Cleall (Bristol, 6 caps)
20 Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens, 54 caps)
21 La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 58 caps)
22 Emily Scott (Saracens, 15 caps)
23 Claire Allan (Saracens, 35 caps)
Old Mutual Wealth Series
England 10 – 5 France
Wednesday 9 November
England 20 – 25 New Zealand
Saturday 19 November
England v Canada, Saturday 26 November
Twickenham, KO 5.05pm
FREE entry after the conclusion of the men’s game
Report courtesy of England Rugby