- Captain wants an improved effort from England Women in contact area
- Sarah Hunter expects “almighty clash” in Hamilton
Skipper Sarah Hunter has called for England Women to eradicate individual errors in Tuesday’s second Test to avoid their collapse during the final quarter of the series opener against New Zealand on Saturday.
Buoyed by a first-half try from openside Marlie Packer, the tourists found themselves just 11-10 down just after the hour mark at Eden Park in Auckland – a first away win over the Black Ferns since 2001 well within reach.
However, Gary Street’s charges tired in the latter stages and scores from Amiria Rule and Justine Lavea gave the hosts a rather flattering 29-10 win.
England must now level at Waikato Stadium tomorrow to emulate their series success against the same opponents in December, and Hunter – moving from No.8 to blindside flanker in one of 10 changes to the starting line-up – said there would have to be a renewed determination about the team.
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“Until about 65 minutes I felt we were really in it,” explained the Lichfield back-rower. “Then they got two late breakaway tries that doesn’t really reflect that it was a really close battle the whole way through.
“We were focussed and confident in our ability to come here and perform, but on the day there were just too many unforced errors and we didn’t do out basics well enough. Unfortunately New Zealand captalised and took the victory.
“We can’t underestimate the Black Ferns, not that we did – we knew that on home soil they would be a different proposition and they’ve had a few camps together, which is more preparation than they have ever had before.
“They are fantastic, skilful players and we can’t afford to miss tackles on them – it cost us dearly in the last game because their tries came from those mistakes and not putting their runners to deck. We really need to look at that ahead of Tuesday.”
While defensive lapses clearly disheartened Hunter somewhat, she was pleased with the initial industry of her pack in producing a sturdy platform for fly half Katy McLean and the back division.
Photo: Getty Images
“When we had the ball in hand there was some really good stuff and we looked sharp, especially from the set piece. That gave the backs a good platform to play off.
“We’ll be looking to continue that, but we need to be more clinical in their 22. We got there a number of times and we need to make use of that and come away with points.
“It just needs a few tweaks here and there and for us as individuals to take more responsibility for our jobs.”
Ahead of a high-stakes occasion in Hamilton, Hunter finished by insisting that England would not be overawed by the atmosphere.
“We’re all very aware that it’s a must-win game but we can’t let that be the focus because it might distract us from playing our game.
“We’ve got to go out there and do what we’ve done in training and work really hard on out basics. These are the games we strive for – it is a key Test decider and there’s no better place to play than down here in New Zealand.
“We know they’ll want to come out and win the series so it’s sure to be an almighty clash.”