England 26 – 12 New Zealand: McNamara’s men open series with victory

England beat New Zealand 26-12 at the KC Stadium in Hull on Sunday evening, with a fine second-half performance sealing an impressive win over the world’s number one ranked team.

Tentative opening exchanges were ended after the Kiwis upped the pressure for a couple of sets, with Tohu Harris finishing an incisive move to put the visitors  4-0 up, Isaac Luke missed the conversion.

Sam Moa touched down under the sticks after an English kick charge-down handed the Kiwis a repeat set. Some sharp handling in the build-up allowed Moa to show class and power to score. The extras were added for 10-0 just after the 15-minute mark had been reached.

A Josh Hodgson try on 19 minutes pulled things back after Zak Hardaker was adjudged to have touched the ball with his knee rather than his hands, before it was knocked forward by a Kiwi hand.

Hodgson, playing a Test match in his hometown, gathered the ball gratefully to score the try under the posts. Widdop added the extras, and England were four points behind.

The Kiwis responded by kicking a penalty after Sean O’Loughlin transgressed in a tackle under the English points.

England huffed and puffed, and occasionally flared into something like attacking dangerousness, but basic errors and penalties saw them come away from the Kiwi line unrewarded.

The Kiwis had a try disallowed for obstruction, much to their chagrin, when the video ref adjudged that George Williamshad been obstructed when attempting to defend against a Kiwi move on England‘s right edge.

England immediately exploited their good fortune, going up the other end of the field on the next set for Brett Ferres to score. 12-12 with five minutes left of the first half.

Half-time: England 12- 12 New Zealand

England nudged into a 14-12 lead five minutes into the second half, with Gareth Widdop kicking a penalty from in front of the posts.

The home team look to have grown in confidence after the interval, with George Williams looking assured at half-back, alongside Widdop.

A high penalty count in England‘s favour saw them edge ahead in terms of territory and possession, and Ferres rolled and slid over for his second on 58 minutes. Widdop added the extras to make it 20-12 going into the last quarter.

New Zealand looked very tired as the game moved into its last quarter, and England began to look in control.

The Kiwis forced a series of repeat sets as the game headed into the last 10 minutes, but some of their forward pack looked sapped of energy.

Sean O’Loughlin sealed it for England with three minutes remaining, the Wigan loose forward capping a fine performance by bumping off Adam Blair to score.

The game finished at 26-12, with the crowd, which had been quiet by Hull standards, celebrating a fine England victory.


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