England 2 – 9 New Zealand: Kiwis grind to series-levelling win

England were beaten 9-2 by New Zealand in a tense, and at times frustrating, Second Test at London’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The tone was set early on, with both teams looking tentative in attack. England went into a 2-0 lead on seven minutes, with Gareth a Widdop penalty.

New Zealand levelled matters up at 2-2 after 13 minutes, Luke kicking a penalty from in front of the sticks, after a period when the Kiwis’ off-loading game began to splutter into life.

Defence was to the fore from both teams, with wrestle in the tackle rather than big hits dominating in the early stages.

Crowd quiet, but began to liven up just as New Zealand began to build pressure inside the England 20m line. England responded with some organised and calm defence which strangled the Kiwis’ attack.

But the New Zealanders kept on probing, and continued to build pressure without looking as incisive as they can do.

A superb hit from George Williams capped a fine defensive effort from the English to keep the Kiwis out.

The last tackle plays from the Kiwis were poor, and England struggled to find fluency in attack, meaning the half ended at 2-2.

Second Half

The second half opened with New Zealand scoring the game’s first try, with Shaun Kenny-Dowall crossing in the right corner, after a quick piece of handiwork from Tohu Harris retrieved a fumble.

England responded strongly to going 8-2 down, and after retaining the ball from their own kick-off, they surged into the New Zealand 20.

The Kiwis lack of fluency in attack continued to hand opportunities to England, but they struggled to take them.

Every time New Zealand began to look threatening, they came up with an error.

That started to change after the 50-minute mark, however, as the off-loads began to stick. Chants of ‘Kiwi! Kiwi!’ from the New Zealanders in the crowd showed how momentum was beginning to shift in the men in black’s direction.

It was still tense, tentative stuff, though, and the crowd was generally quiet.

It got even more tense for England fans as the New Zealand kicking game went up several notches, forcing repeat set after repeat set around the hour mark.

Only last ditch defence from Brett Ferres prevented Peta Hiku from scoring another try for the Kiwis.

George Williams put his team under pressure with an awful pass from dummy half to Ryan Hall with 12 minutes remaining.

From the set from the scrum, the Kiwis won a penalty, and Isaac Luke stepped up to miss the kick, and the chance to put his team into a two-score lead.

On 71 minutes James Graham dived on a Josh Hodgson grubber over the Kiwi line, but the video ref ruled the try out, after adjudging the prop had not grounded the ball properly.

New Zealand went straight up the other end, building on a fine carry from Jason Nightingale.

Kodi Nikorima was tackled short of the line by Elliott Whitehead, however.

The Kiwis pushed into a 9-2 lead with three minutes remaining, when Jordan Kahu kicked a drop goal.

And that was how it finished, as a quiet, yet intense, game, petered out.

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