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Key battles won and lost: How The Red Roses secured NZ win

By Matt Merritt
Ellie Kildunne of England during the WXV1 match between New Zealand Silver Ferns and England at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart on November 04, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

After 38 minutes that all went England’s way, a New Zealand try in the close of the first half signalled we still had a game on our hands. In the end the Red Roses would power to a 33-12 victory to take home the WXV 1 title.

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The Black Ferns’ two tries – either side of half time – gave them hope, but in the end the power of the English pack won through, their forwards combining for five tries and exerting their physical dominance.

Here’s where the Red Roses took advantage, and where the Black Ferns showed their class:

Front Row – Advantage England
The first half would see the Black Ferns really struggle at set piece, with a struggling lineout and a barely stable scrum. A change of front row on 45 minutes seemed to offer renewed stability for the hosts.
The Red Roses front row is always one of their most dangerous weapons. Sarah Bern continuously threated with barrelling runs while Lark Atkin-Davies scored a trademark try off the back of a maul and threw with pinpoint accuracy.

Second Row – Advantage England
Lineout dominance is the Red Roses bread and butter, but it’s the work England’s engine room put in around the park that should set them apart. Zoe Aldcroft quietly goes about her duties, racking up tackles and hitting every ruck (and also scoring a try), while RugbyPass columnist Rosie Galligan was an imperious presence, laying some big hits early on.
Chelsea Bremner was an absolute machine for the Black Ferns and a constant thorn in England’s side, but the stuttering New Zealand lineout is a black mark on the performance of their locks.

Back Row – Advantage England
Marlie Packer lead from the front with an imperious performance, crashing into black shirts time and again with no regard for her own wellbeing. Morwenna Talling continues to grow into the 6 shirt and with her power and eye for a break she could be a candidate to move out to 8 in the future. Alex Matthews, typically a blindside, has revelled in her role at the base of the scrum this tournament with some lovely runs and, today, the opening try.
The Black Ferns loose forwards are no slouches themselves. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u constantly threatened with her powerful presence and captain Kennedy Simon echoed her opposite number Packer with a performance that left nothing in reserve.

Half backs – Advantage New Zealand
Natasha Hunt’s return to the 9 shirt gave England some real buzz and she worked well with Holly Aitchison to open up some space for her Red Roses colleagues.
Across the park Ruahei Demant gave a masterclass in the modern fly-half. Superb distribution stretched the Red Roses line, she made some lovely breaks herself and in defence she absolutely refused to let a player pass her. A performance that underlined her nomination for World Player of the Year.

Centres – Advantage New Zealand
Sylvia Brunt and Amy du Plessis were imperious in the centre of the park for the Black Ferns, defending resolutely, getting patched up and going again.
Helena Rowland threatened for the Red Roses and Tatyana Heard grew into the game with some hard-running carries.

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Outside Backs – Advantage England
Two disallowed tries didn’t diminish Ellie Kildunne’s performance for the Red Roses. The full back looked like she might be a little lightweight for this New Zealand team after conceding ground twice in the opening minutes, but she seemed to take that as a personal slight and thereafter was a constant danger both with her own elusive running and her ability to bring her wingers into play, whether through a hard hitting Abby Dow run or a mazy dance through the defensive line from Claudia MacDonald.
Renee Holmes will be frustrated with her kicking in this game, but in open play she snuffed out many of England’s best attacking opportunities. Ruby Tui drew focus time and again and even chipped in with a few turnover attempts.

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Comments

2 Comments
C
Courtney 225 days ago

It would seem everyone was imperious.

D
Derek 226 days ago

Well Done Red Roses

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