As they approach a one-year unbroken run at the top of the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini, England have pulled 2.66 points clear of New Zealand in second place.
The Red Roses picked up 0.93 of a rating point for their emphatic 43-12 win over the reigning world champions at Sandy Park on Sunday in what was a re-run of the Rugby World Cup 2017 final and are now on 95.61 points to New Zealand’s 92.95.
Simon Middleton’s side delivered a magnificent performance for the bumper 9,748 crowd and those watching live on BBC2, albeit against an undercooked Black Ferns outfit that hasn’t played together for two years.
New Zealand, who were playing in their 100th test, will be all the better for the run out and injured England centre Emily Scarratt expects them to come out firing when the teams meet again next Sunday at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton.
“The Black Ferns are a really proud team. They will want to show what they are all about. They will be back next week,” she said.
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Ward steals the show
One area New Zealand will need to address is their lineout. Second-row Abbie Ward was magnificent in stealing ball for England on an afternoon when she also helped herself to a couple of first-half tries. Full-back Ellie Kildunne also crossed before the break to hand England a 17-0 lead.
The Black Ferns responded through Alana Bremner before Lark Davies, Holly Aitchison and Abby Dow scored to underline the hosts’ dominance. Player of the match Zoe Harrison scored the Red Roses’ seventh try in the game's last attack.
In addition to increasing their lead at the top of the rankings, the record-breaking victory extended England’s unbeaten home run to 23 matches.
The only other game of the weekend took place in the Rugby Europe Women’s Trophy with hosts Sweden defeating Czechia 31-12.
No rating points were awarded due to the large points differential between the teams, so Sweden and Czechia remain unmoved in the rankings in 19th and 48th position, respectively.