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Black Ferns looking to claim the Super Series title

New Zealand are in pole position to win the Women’s Rugby Super Series after making it two wins from two with victory over England on Wednesday.

Tries from Victoria Subritziki-Nafatali and Selica Winiata and 16 points from the boot of New Zealand’s influential scrum-half Kendra Cocksedge resulted in England coming unstuck 26-7 against the resurgent Black Ferns.

"It was a very satisfying win," said Winiata. "They are the world champs so to come here and achieve this result with a new team, with 12 new players who haven't debuted or played in a Black Ferns jersey before, is a very good stepping stone for us. I think we've got a lot of belief from this game."

After a 40-22 victory over Canada in their opening match, New Zealand are now just one win away from claiming the inaugural Super Series title. World champions England must hope New Zealand slip-up against USA, who opened their account with a 36-28 win against local rivals Canada on Wednesday, and then go on to beat their hosts in Sunday’s final fixture to have any chance of denying them.


NEW ZEALAND 26-7 ENGLAND

Cocksedge produced another goal-kicking masterclass as ill-disciplined England paid the price for conceding too many penalties in a stop-start affair in Red Deer.

The scrum-half kicked four penalties and converted both of New Zealand’s tries, fine individual efforts from Subritziki-Nafatali and Winiata, while England's points came from Alex Matthews’ try which was turned into a seven-pointer by Emily Scarratt.

Cocksedge had booted New Zealand into a deserved 6-0 lead before England scored the opening try of the game. Good ball retention and a swift handling move drew defenders in and number eight Matthews cut a great angle to race home from 30 metres out and score under the posts, Scarratt adding the simplest of conversions.

However, that was as good as it got for England who had made wholesale changes from their opening day win over the USA.

Great footwork from Subritziki-Nafatali saw her step past several defenders on her way to the line and Cocksedge was on song with the conversion as New Zealand quickly rallied to take a 13-7 lead.

Honey Hireme, a double try-scorer against Canada, was denied by the touchline as she tried to squeeze her way over in the corner, and New Zealand had to settle for a nine-point advantage at the break following a third Cocksedge penalty.

The Black Ferns soaked up English pressure in the third quarter, twice holding up opponents over the line, before striking the telling blow in the final play of the game through Winiata.


CANADA 26-38 USA

A much livelier second game of the night brought a first win for USA, who outscored their local rivals by five tries to four.

Full-back Jessica Wooden capped a player of the match performance with two tries as the Women’s Eagles fought back from 21-8 down after the opening 20 minutes to win 36-28.

“We took our opportunities. We tightened up the defence and had an attacking mind-set,” said USA coach Pete Steinberg. “It was a great match.

“Overall, it was a much better performance than what we had against England. We showed that we have the athletes that can finish and we put the ball in their hands more in this game.”

Canada opened the scoring in the first minute when flanker Latoya Blackwood (pictured), broke a series of tackles to score. Andrea Burk converted for a 7-0 lead.

Centre Kimberley Rosier got USA on the scoreboard with the first of her five kicks on the night, before Canada pulled further clear when Lisa Gauthier scored her maiden test try and Burk converted.

Back came the Women's Eagles, outside centre and captain Jane Paar diving over for a try that Rosier improved. The tit-for-tat nature of the match continued when Burk converted her own try for a 21-8 lead.

However, this would be the high point for Canada, as only three minutes later, USA number eight Jordan Gray, dotted down for a converted try to bring the Women's Eagles back to within one score.

Just under 10 minutes later, USA would take the lead for the first time in the match, going into half-time just in front at 22-21, when Gray scored her second try after a great dummy.

Shortly after pulling off a great cover tackle on Gaulthier to deny Canada in the 52nd minute, Wooden showed her class in attack by scoring a superb individual try from 70 metres, making the score 29-21 for the Americans.

She repeated the feat to score her second try moments later before replacement hooker Sam Pankey got in an on the act with USA's fifth try on 61 minutes.

The last try of the match would go to Canada when Julianne Zussman crossed the line with only a couple of minutes left, making the final score 36-28, and securing the hosts a four-try bonus point.

“We had moments of amazing rugby and then we’d kind of fall back on defence,” said Gauthier. “They saw the gaps and used the mistakes that we made. But when it was great it was great, we just have to build for the next game.”

Women’s Rugby Super Series remaining fixtures:

July 5: 

New Zealand v USA, kick-off 16:00
Canada v England, kick-off 18:30