England 20-14 New Zealand: England win series

41d37014-af4c-4c01-bde5-5cbe16bb7babEngland won their first test series for eight years as they beat New Zealand 20-14 at DW Stadium, Wigan.

An Elliot Whitehead double inspired England to the Baskerville shield. The second-rower firstly collected Matty Smith’s grubber kick in the first half before powering his way over in the second half for his first International tries. Sean O’Loughlin sealed England’s victory late on when he managed to force his way over from yards out.

New Zealand did score two spectacular tries with Jason Nightingale involved in both. The Kiwi winger managed to finish acrobatically in the first half before throwing an audacious pass for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck late on. Jordan Kahu also grabbed a late try but their was no late comeback as Issac Luke couldn’t convert either of the late tries.

England coach Steve McNamara made two changes before the game dropping George Williams and replacing him with Wigan teammate Matty Smith. Jermaine McGillvary also came in replacing Joe Burgess. New Zealand remained unchanged.

England coach McNamara said: “In international sport everyone wants to see the country do well and these boys have worked so hard over the past few years and today they’ve earned their reward.”

England captain Sean O’Loughlin said: “Its a long time since we last had our hands on something we’ve been pushing the Aussies and Kiwi’s close over the past few years and now we’ve finally got over the line.”

Smith said: “It’s a great result the country hasn’t won anything like this for eight years and it means a lot. We’ve been building for a couple of years and come close in the Four Nations and World Cup and moments like this is why you play for your country.”

The victory means England won the series 2-1 after their victory in Hull a fortnight ago. The Kiwi’s couldn’t build on their narrow victory in London last week.

Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney said: “We didn’t bring our best footy today and made errors at crucial times and England were deserved winners.”

New Zealand captain said: “We let ourselves down today the discipline was poor but credit to England they played some good footy tonight.”

It was a fast paced attack minded start from England who began building pressure from the first minute. McNamara’s men earned back-to-back penalties inside the first five minutes with debutant McGillvary causing the Kiwi’s problems. Widdop converted the second of the penalties to give the home side an 2-0 lead; similarly to last weekend.

New Zealand did manage to mount some offense themselves inside the first ten minutes. Luke broke and found winger Nightingale with a looping pass. Nightingale was surging towards the corner but McGillvary, who had started well, managed to force him into touch just before the try-line. 04fc68a5-9b5b-4940-a95f-f4649f967dda

However England were still playing the better and it paid off midway through the half. A Smith grubber kick bounced up off Luke’s leg before falling into the arms of Whitehead who crossed to score his first International try. Widdop’s conversion was successful and extended England’s lead to ten.

The Kiwi’s continued to use their offload game, which was so effective last weekend, and it continued to create chances for them. A number of offloads eventually found Nightingale out wide who again raced towards the try-line but was again denied this time by full-back Hardaker who flew across and put him into touch.

Nightingale had been the Kiwi’s main source of danger and his hard work eventually paid off when he crossed with five minutes of the first-half remaining. Again the Kiwi winger found himself in space down the flank and again found himself in a foot race with Hardaker who was coming across. However Nightingale leaped the challenge of Hardaker and managed to plant the ball down in acrobatic fashion. Luke converted and New Zealand went into the break trailing 8-6.

The second-half started a lot cagier with both sides seeming less reluctant to throw the ball around in the worsening conditions. It took twenty minutes for a real chance to come either sides way. England’s quick hands out to the right found Whitehead who managed to step inside before palming off Kevin Proctor and scoring his second International try and his second of the afternoon.

England managed to hold off New Zealand’s pressure and prevent an immediate response. With just eight minutes remaining England wrapped up the series. O’Loughlin managed to power his way over from yards out in similar fashion to the opening match of the series. New Zealand did score a late consolation try when Nightingale threw a wonder ball inside as he was getting pushed wide. Tuivasa-Sheck collected the ball and scored.

England: Hardaker, McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall, Widdop, Smith, Hill, Hodgson, Graham, Whitehead, Farrell, O’Loughlin.

Interchanges: T.Burgess, Cooper, Ferres, Roby.

New Zealand: Tuivasa-Sheck, Nightingale, Kahu, Whare, Kenny-Dowall; Hiku, Nikorima; Bromwich, Luke, Moa, Proctor, Harris, Blair.

Interchanges: Brown, Taupau, Matulino, Glenn.

Referee: Ben Thaler Attendance:

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