England’s women looked in a different class to the World Champions for the Black Ferns’ visit to the Cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.
A lot was riding on this game in different ways. For the visitors it was a chance to reclaim some pride after last week’s mauling at the hands of England.
For England and women’s rugby generally it was a chance to light a fire under the game in Northampton following the club’s recent adoption of Loughborough Lightning as the Saints’ women’s side.
And for the stadium itself it was the chance to show itself off as a great venue for games should England be successful in its bid for the 2025 Women’s World Cup.
Sadly for the visitors they were the only ones going home disappointed after nearly 10,000 effervescent home fans witnessed a champagne afternoon for England.
It is always a treat to see the Haka performed and the England women faced it respectfully before entering their own brief huddle before kick-off.
After that the gloves were off for something of a masterclass from the Roses whose near professional set-up has seen them soar in confidence and power in the four years since the last world cup.
Player of the Match was hooker Amy Cockayne who scored a hat-trick, reflecting a game where England had to use their muscle to overcome a spirited but ultimately futile resistance from the Ferns.
You have to feel some sympathy for the visitors who have come a long way to represent their game working with set-ups more akin to the days of the amateur code in which players are juggling jobs with training commitments. In no sense did they give up but today the English machine was far too powerful for them.