England face New Zealand in the final of the World Cup on Saturday and while Simon Middleton’s Red Roses have amassed a record 30 successive Test wins, bookmakers are unable to separate the rivals.
Here, the PA news agency looks at three England players to watch at Eden Park.
Abby Dow, Wasps Women, wing
Dow’s remarkable 51st-minute try in the semi-final against Canada underlined her finishing expertise as well as helping England break the resistance of their opponents. They led only 18-12 when Dow touched down by ending a move started by Claudia MacDonald’s brilliant footwork, showing raw pace to claim her second try of the match. The 25-year-old’s performance explained why England took her to the World Cup even though she had not fully recovered from a horrific broken leg suffered in April.
Sarah Hunter, Loughborough Lightning, number eight
England’s most-capped player who has also accumulated a record 139 Test appearances in the women’s game, Hunter’s experience and big-game nous make her an automatic pick even at the age of 37. A World Cup winner in 2014, she subsequently replaced Katy Daley-McLean as captain and has retained the role ever since. Started her rugby career as a centre but her natural home is in the back row where a combination of power and rugby IQ keeps the excellent Poppy Cleall confined to a place on the bench.
Marlie Packer, Saracens, flanker
Consistently outstanding as an all-action openside, Packer is one of England’s most influential players. High work rate and breakdown savvy are her calling cards, but she is also a force in defence and attack. A hat-trick in the 41-5 rout of Australia in the quarter-finals illustrated her value to England’s most potent weapon at the World Cup – the rolling maul – and the 33-year-old veteran of 88 caps has grown as a leader to the point she was named captain in the pool game against South Africa. The Red Roses need her firing if New Zealand are to be dethroned.