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Infante touches down as Red Roses rout New Zealand

Leanne Infante scored on her return to the starting lineup as the Red Roses ran out comfortable 56-15 winners against the Black Ferns at Northampton's Franklin's Gardens.

It is the first time England have secured back-to-back wins over New Zealand since 2012, and stretches their unbeaten run to 16 matches.  

The Black Ferns showed their intent to attack early on, opting to run the ball out of their half from kick off, but staunch English defence thwarted their ambition.

It took eight minutes for the Red Roses to get on the scoreboard, and it came in the familiar form of a rolling maul, Amy Cokayne the benefactor at the back.

Ellie Kildunne bagged England’s second just moments later, as the Black Ferns struggled to deal with Leanne Infante’s quick service at each ruck that edged closer to their line. Fizzing passes saw the ball moved through hands, and into the path of Kildunne, who went over. Fly half Zoe Harrison converted both efforts for a 14-0 lead.

Simon Middleton’s charges were then awarded a penalty try on the 16-minute mark, as New Zealand's scrum half Kendra Cocksedge was yellow carded for deliberately knocking on an Infante pass to Lydia Thompson, that would have seen the winger score.

The Black Ferns showed moments of promise through wingers Ayesha Leti-I’iga and Portia Woodman, only for handling errors to spoil their good work, whilst the Red Roses continued to be stubborn in the scrum, accurate at the line out and relentless in their attack off of both.   

England forced the game to be played deep inside the visitor’s territory, and on the stroke of half time Cokayne powered over for her second try, a carbon copy of her first, and Harrison slotted the extras to give the Red Roses a 28-point lead at the break.

The second half started exactly how the first ended, with a Red Roses try off the back of a five metre lineout, and it was Cokayne's hat trick score. Harrison's conversion was good.

From the restart Grace Houpapa-Barrett spurred the Black Ferns into action with a rampaging run down England's left flank. It was their first visit into the red zone, and they left with points - Woodman was found wide in space to dot down in the corner. 

She was the catalyst behind their try, but Houpapa-Barrett overthrew a five metre lineout into the ever-aware Infante, who duly collected and fell over the whitewash for England's sixth score. Harrison's boot made it 42-5.

A converted Lark Davies try in the 65th minute extended England's lead by 44 points. Replacement Sarah McKenna was later shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock on.

The Black Ferns scored another - courtesy of Stacey Fluhler - but Abby Dow struck back with a try of her own. Woodman crossed again in the final play of the Test, but it was a consolation score, as the game finished 56-15.


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