England 20 – 14 New Zealand: McNamara’s men claim Baskerville Shield with Wigan win

England have beaten New Zealand 20-14 at Wigan’s DW Stadium, to claim a 2-1 series win over the Kiwis.

England made a great start to the game immediately, smashing the Kiwi catcher over the dead ball line from kick off.

Jermaine McGillvary showed aggression on his first carry, winning a penalty, and looking well up for the battle on his debut.

England won another penalty in front of the posts, and opted for two points, Gareth Widdop slotting the kick.

New Zealand began to fire into life too, though, with Isaac Luke pulling the strings from dummy half in attack.

Some exciting handling saw the Kiwis threaten the English line, but England, particularly McGillvary, showed good spirit and organisation.

Kallum Watkins bombed a great opportunity on 15 minutes to threaten the New Zealand line, with the Kiwis’ left edge at his mercy, only to drop the pass.

Mike Cooper and James Roby‘s arrival just after the 20-minute mark brought fresh impetus to England, with several repeat sets forcing the Kiwis to defend well.

Elliott Whitehead opened the scoring on minutes, with the England back rower dropping on a clever Matty Smith grubber after a probing set in the Kiwis’ 20m zone. Widdop added the extras to make it 8-0.

Smith’s kicking game was becoming more effective as the game went on, and the improvement it produced in the whole team from the Second Test was clear to see.

Jason Nightingale struck back for the Kiwis with a spectacular dive over Zak Hardaker into the left-hand corner with four minutes of the half left, after the New Zealanders had prised open England‘s right edge after running a last tackle play.

Second half

The opening exchanges continued very much in the spirit of the first half, with both teams showing threat and quality with ball in hand.

New Zealand seemed to be edging it after the first 10 minutes after the interval, with territory slowy creeping into their favour on the back of some intelligent kicking.

Neither side cracked, though, as the game became much less expansive. The rain was pouring down by now, and the play reflected the conditions.

In the 63rd minute Elliott Whitehead went over for his second try, after some determined running and decent handling, which took the ball from England‘s left side to their right edge.

Widdop added the extras, and England were into a 14-6 lead with less than 20 minutes remaining.

England skipper O’Loughlin sealed the victory, as he had in Hull a fortnight earlier. The Wigan loose forward drove over from short range after shifting from one side of the ruck to the other, with the video ref giving his effort the final seal of approval.

England led 20-6 with eight minutes remaining,and the Kiwis were able to make those remaning minutes anxious, after Nightingale showed some spectacular handling to reverse pass to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to score a fine try. Isaac Luke missed the conversion.

The tension was ratcheted up another notch, when Jordan Kahu slid to collect a cross field kick and cross the line. Luke hit the post with the conversion.

A last-minute flurry from the Kiwis almost took them to a draw, but England hung on to claim the spoils from a good Test match, and the Baskerville Shield.

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