A Shaun Johnson field goal proved to be the difference with New Zealand defeating England 17 points to 16 at a sold out John Smith’s Stadium in front of a crowd of 24,070 in Huddersfield.
The English fought hard throughout the 80 minutes, with no man putting in more effort than the English captain and Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess.
England posted first points when five-eighth Gareth Widdop kicked a penalty goal in the third minute of play to give the home side an early two-nil lead.
Eight minutes later a high tackle by Kiwis half Shaun Johnson on Widdop led to England’s second penalty goal, giving the Wall of White a four point lead after 11 minutes.
The English mounted plenty of pressure on the Kiwis and that led to prop James Graham reaching out over the line but the video referee said it was a double movement and denied the home side a try.
Despite having an opportunity to mount their own pressure, the Kiwis could not crack the English line, and decided to kick a penalty goal of their own in the 30th minute to Jordan Kahu, taking the score line to 4-2 in favour of England.
The Kiwis were denied a try of their own by the video referee in the 32nd minute with English fullback Johnny Lomax grounding the ball in goal fractionally before a flying Solomone Kata.
The Kiwis scored the first try of the game with winger Jordan Rapana diving over in the right hand corner for the four-pointer, giving the Kiwis a 6-4 lead just before the half time break.
Despite some late pressure the Englishmen were able to hold out the New Zealanders, seeing the men in black white take a two point lead at the half time spell.
The Burgess brothers, in particular captain Sam, were extremely busy in defence throughout the opening 40 minutes, and were also doing some damage with the ball with limited opportunities.
The Kiwis started the second half in the best way possible with half Shaun Johnson taking an intercept deep in his own half, racing 80 metres to score to the right of the posts. Kahu converted to give the New Zealanders an eight point buffer.
The English struck back seven minutes later when home town boy Jermaine McGillvary scored in the right hand corner after some powerful running from all three Burgess brothers in the lead up. Widdop converted to reduce the deficit to two points.
The Kiwis were denied another try by the video referee when Jason Nightingale was knocked into touch just short of the line.
However on their next set of six New Zealand would cross for their third try, and the second try to Jordan Rapana, who beat three defenders to score.
The Englishman struck back almost immediately with veteran winger Ryan Hall scoring his 29th try in his 29th Test match for England, diving over in the left hand corner. Widdop converted to level the scores at 16-all after 61 minutes.
Shaun Johnson took an early field goal for the Kiwis, giving them a one point lead with 15 minutes still remaining on the clock.
England regained the momentum and had opportunities to mount pressure and post points. Eight minutes from full time centre Dan Sarginson dropped a sitter to thwart a scoring opportunity and a chance to take the lead for England late in the game.
In the 77th minute, Widdop attempted a long range field goal but it was waved away, leaving the men in white behind by that one point.
England weren’t able to force their way over for more points, leaving the Kiwis with a one point win, 17-16, after the 80 minutes.
Sam Burgess, captaining his country for the first time, worked himself to an absolute standstill. He made 180 metres from 16 runs plus 39 tackles in a phenomenal effort, however it wasn’t enough to get the win for his side. The Burgess Twins also caused the Kiwis problems in both attack and defence with their limited game time.
Shaun Johnson’s field goal proved to be the difference, giving the Kiwis a big advantage over England on the competition ladder as they battle for a spot in the Four Nations Final.
New Zealand 17 (Jordan Rapana 2, Shaun Johnson tries; Jordan Kahu 2 goals; Shaun Johnson field goal)
England 16 (Jermaine McGillvary, Ryan Hall tries; Gareth Widdop 4 goals)