New Zealand came out victorious in an exhilarating encounter to reach the Four Nations final and leave England on the brink of elimination.
The Kiwis went ahead with their first attack through Jason Nightingale, but England hit back from Ryan Hall who finished off a superb England move.
Josh Charnley gave England the lead before Nightingale added his second.
Manu Vatuvei extended the host’s lead in the second half, and although Hall scored again, it was not enough.
Having suffered two consecutive defeats against
Steve McNamara’s side’s chance of reaching the final in Wellington next week is now out of their hands, needing Samoa to beat Australia by fewer than eight points on Sunday if they are to progress.
An Australia win would see them go out, as would a Samoa win by more than eight points, but if Samoa win by exactly eight points, then it would go down to tries scored; England currently have 10,
The permutations would have been made easier if England had won, but for the second week running, they narrowly lost a match they were in command of.
The visitors had chances through Hall, who dropped the ball while close to the try line early in the second half and Gareth Widdop who twice hit the post from try conversions.
Playing an exciting, expansive brand of rugby in Dunedin, they failed to make their opportunities pay, coming up against a determined and resolute New Zealand defence.
England made the worst start possible in a repeat of
going behind within the first two minutes. New Zealand danger man Shaun Johnson – the last-minute try scorer in the previous meeting between the teams – lofted a high kick towards the England try line which Nightingale rose to collect for the first try.
They were not behind for long though, getting on the scoresheet on the next attack. Having been kept out on the right flank, England moved the ball with quick hands to the left and Hall touched down in the corner from Dan Sarginson’s pass.
From that moment, England were exerting severe pressure on the New Zealand try line and it paid dividends as Charnley outpaced winger Vatuvei on the outside for the score.
However, for all of England’s control, they could only muster eight points and New Zealand kept their composure to go up-field as Nightingale added his second of the game for a half-time lead.
England almost made the perfect start to the second half, but Hall was unable to touch down, and they were punished as Vatuvei powered over after hesitant defending from Kallum Watkins.
Leeds winger Hall made up for his earlier error by going over in the corner to reduce the deficit to two points. But despite a late flurry, England were unable to break through, leaving them on the verge of an exit from the competition.
S Tomkins (New Zealand Warriors); J Charnley (Wigan), K Watkins (Leeds), D Sarginson (Wigan), R Hall (Leeds); G Widdop (St George Illawarra), M Smith (Wigan); G Burgess (South Sydney), D Clark (Castleford), J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), L Farrell (Wigan), J Tomkins (Wigan), S O’Loughlin (Wigan, capt).
Elliot Whitehead (Catalans Dragons), B Ferres (Huddersfield), T Burgess (South Sydney), C Hill (Warrington).
New Zealand team:
P Hiku (Manly), J Nightingale (St George Illawarra), S Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters), D Whare (Penrith), M Vatuvei (New Zealand Warriors); K Foran (Manly), S Johnson (New Zealand Warriors); J Bromwich (Melbourne), I Luke (South Sydney), A Blair (Wests Tigers), S Mannering (New Zealand Warriors, capt), K Proctor (Melbourne), J Taumalolo (North Queensland).
T Leuluai (New Zealand Warriors), G Eastwood (Canterbury Bulldogs), M Taupau (Wests Tigers), T Harris (Melbourne).
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-league/29893376