International Series 2015: England 26-12 New Zealand

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Highlights: England 26-12 New Zealand
International Series 2015: First Test
England: (12) 26
Tries: Ferres (2), Hodgson, O'Loughlin Goals: Widdop (5)
New Zealand: (12) 12
Tries: Harris, Moa Goals: Luke (2)

England came from behind to deservedly defeat the world's top-ranked side New Zealand 26-12 in the opening Test of their three-match series in Hull.

Tries from Tohu Harris and Sam Moa put the Kiwis 10-0 ahead before scores from Josh Hodgson and Brett Ferres ensured the opening half finished 12-12.

England took control after the break with a penalty from Gareth Widdop and a converted Ferres try making it 20-12.

Skipper Sean O'Loughlin barged over late on as gutsy England took victory.

England end sequence of near misses

England's recent encounters with New Zealand have been a story of heartbreaking near misses.

They lost 16-14 in the Four Nations last year a week after a narrow 16-12 reverse against Australia.

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Highlights: New Zealand 20-18 England

And it was even more painful in 2013 when the Kiwis snatched a dramatic 20-18 World Cup semi-final victory over Steve McNamara's team at Wembley, with Shaun Johnson kicking the decisive goal with the last action of the match.

In fact, McNamara had won only one of nine meetings against the Kangaroos and the Kiwis going into Sunday's encounter.

But against a Kiwi side fielding an inexperienced half-back pairing of Peta Hiku and Tuimoala Lolohea but a strong pack, England recovered from a poor start to deservedly win at the KC Stadium.

"We wanted to start well, put in good performance, and this this is something for us to build on," said man of the match Ferres.

Harris doesn't miss out this time

Harris could have been forgiven for feeling especially delighted when he ran towards the corner for the first try of the series.

The 23-year-old was in the original squad to travel to England compete in the 2013 World Cup, but missed out when Sonny Bill Williams had a change of heart and decided to compete in the tournament.

Harris abruptly found himself jettisoned and Williams, currently in the news after he gave away his union World Cup winner's medal to a young fan shortly after the All Blacks' triumph on Saturday, apologised to the unlucky Melbourne Storm man.

The forward's try came during a flat start to the Test by McNamara's team. They were also powerless to prevent Moa, back at the stadium where he used to play for Hull FC, charging over close to the posts as the away side opened up a 10-0 lead.

And there was a hint of fortune when England finally got on the board, with the ball striking Zak Hardaker's knee and looping up for Hodgson to burst across the line.

A minute that changed the match?

England celebrate Brett Ferres's first-half try
Ferres scored for England shortly after New Zealand had a try ruled out

New Zealand seemed to possess more punch and cutting edge during a fairly scratchy opening 40 minutes - with Jesse Bromwich and Adam Blair ensuring their powerful pack were in the ascendancy.

Stephen Kearney's side appeared to be heading towards a potential 12-point advantage when Jordan Kahu crossed just after the half-hour mark after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck showed incredible speed to burst through the defensive line before passing to his team-mate.

However, that try was ruled out by the video referee for a supposed obstruction on George Williams during the build up. England immediately went down to the other end of the field and scored when Ferres collected a brilliant flat pass from Williams. A scoreline that could easily have been 18-6 was instead 12-12 at the break.

You can always bank on a Burgess

Thomas Burgess
Burgess had a big impact coming off the bench against New Zealand

Sam Burgess might have had a tough time as part of England's disappointing rugby union World Cup campaign, but his younger brother Tom was immense as England took control in the second half.

Burgess made countless rampaging runs as England scored 14 unanswered points during the second half as England showed a desire and intensity largely absent in the opening 40 minutes.

"Tom Burgess was incredible," said McNamara afterwards. "I wouldn't say he was unstoppable but they found it very difficult to deal with him in attack, and defensively he was really strong as well."

Ferres spun over for his second try and O'Loughlin came off better after a meaty collision with Adam Blair as the Wigan man put the icing on the cake late on.

"Lots to work on"

England coach Steve McNamara: "In the first half we put ourselves under a lot of pressure, we looked out of sorts. But we started to come back towards the back end of the half, that really set ourselves up for the second and we finished the game very strongly.

"I had to support the players' feelings at half-time. Physically we weren't in the game and we needed to change that. Thankfully we did.

"There is lots to work on for next week, both teams can perform a lot better than that. These are tough games though, and with only a six-day turnaround, recovery is the number one priority right now."

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney: "In the second half we didn't execute what we wanted to. That was the disappointing thing, but England put a lot of pressure on us. They did a great job in defence.

"We've got plenty of improvement in us though. We had a couple of opportunities we didn't take as well as we could have done, but we move to next week.

"England were marvelous tonight, and we've got a really tough challenge ahead of us."

What next?

The two teams meet again next Saturday at the Olympic Stadium in London (14:30 GMT). Although there is a long tradition of international rugby league being played in London, it will be the first time that the venue for the 2012 Olympics has been used for a league fixture.

Line-ups

England: Zak Hardaker, Joe Burgess, John Bateman, Kallum Watkins, Ryan Hall, Gareth Widdop, George Williams, James Graham, Josh Hodgson, Chris Hill, Elliott Whitehead, Liam Farrell, Sean O'Loughlin (captain).

Replacements: James Roby, Thomas Burgess, Mike Cooper, Brett Ferres.

New Zealand: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jason Nightingale, Jordan Kahu, Dean Whare, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Peta Hiku, Tuimoala Lolohea, Jesse Bromwich, Issac Luke (co-captain), Sam Moa, Kevin Proctor, Tohu Harris, Adam Blair (co-captain).

Replacements: Kodi Nikorima, Martin Taupau, Ben Matulino, Sio Siua Takeiaho.

Referee: Ben Thaler

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