New Zealand blew a 10-point lead to lose the first Test of a three-match women's rugby series against England 16-13 in London on Saturday (NZT).

The hosts surged to victory courtesy of late tries to No.8 Sarah Hunter and winger Katherine Merchant at the Esher Rugby Club.

Both teams scored two unconverted tries but England kicked two penalties to one as they took a big step towards repeating last year's series win when they hosted the world champion Black Ferns.

After a scoreless opening quarter, England opened the scoring through first five-eighth and captain Katy McLean.

New Zealand responded with a try to No.8 Casey Robertson, who charged down McLean's clearing kick and a penalty to second five-eighth Kelly Brazer.

The lead was extended to 13-3 soon after halftime when first five-eighth Kendra Cocksedge sliced through for a try but England dominated the closing stages on the back of their strong forward pack.

NZ Newswire

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