England 20-14 New Zealand
England 20 (8)
Tries: Whitehead (2), O’Loughlin
Goals: Widdop (4)
New Zealand 14
Tries: Nightingale, Tuivasa-Sheck, Kahu
Two tries from Elliott Whitehead led England to a series victory over New Zealand at a rain-soaked DW Stadium.
England controlled the opening half but only held a narrow 8-6 advantage at the break, with Jason Nightingale crossing for New Zealand.
The game opened up in the final 20 minutes, with Whitehead adding his second try before skipper Sean O’Loughlin went over for England.
Late scores from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Jordan Kahu resulted in a nervous finish for the home side but England held on to lift the Baskerville Shield.
With the series perfectly poised at 1-1 there was everything to play for in front of a sell-out crowd in Wigan.
England began the brightest and were ahead on five minutes through a Gareth Widdop penalty after Adam Blair and Sam Moa held down Chris Hill for too long in the tackle.
Steve McNamara’s side continued their dominance and scored their first try on 27 minutes as NRL-bound Whitehead collected Matty Smith’s kick through to go over.
Widdop converted to increase England’s lead but the Kiwis hit back just before the break thanks to a wonderful try in the corner from Nightingale.
The winger leapt over the defiant Zak Hardaker to take the score to 8-6 at the break.
The second-half began slowly with neither side able to take a control of the game and create any openings.
England’s persistence paid off on 63 minutes however as Whitehead shrugged off four New Zealand tacklers to cross for his second score of the game.
Captain O’Loughlin then spotted a gap in the line 10 minutes later and went over to give the home side a comfortable 20-6 lead.
Heading into the final minutes of the game it appeared England would see the match out but, being the number one side in the world, New Zealand had other ideas.
Nightingale superbly flicked the ball back into the hands of Tuivasa-Sheck with the full-back crossing for the Kiwis.
With two minutes remaining, Kahu collected Kodi Nikorima’s well placed kick into space to take the score to 20-14.
Stephen Kearney’s side did their best to level the game in the dying seconds but England’s defence remained strong as they secured their first series win since 2007.
England: Z Hardaker (Leeds); J McGillvary (Huddersfield), K Watkins (Leeds), J Bateman (Wigan), R Hall (Leeds); G Widdop (St George Illawarra), M Smith (Wigan); J Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs), J Hodgson (Canberra), C Hill (Warrington), E Whitehead (Catalans Dragons), L Farrell (Wigan), S O’Loughlin (Wigan, capt).
Subs: J Roby (St Helens), T Burgess (South Sydney), M Cooper (St George Illawarra), B Ferres (Huddersfield).
New Zealand: R Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters); J Nightingale (St George Illawarra), J Kahu (Brisbane), D Whare (Penrith), S Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters); P Hiku (Manly), K Nikorima (Brisbane); J Bromwich (Melbourne), I Luke (South Sydney, capt), S Moa (Sydney Roosters), K Proctor (Melbourne), T Harris (Melbourne), A Blair (Brisbane).
Subs: M Taupau (Wests Tigers), B Matulino (NZ Warriors), A Glenn (Brisbane), L Brown (Penrith), I Liu (Sydney Roosters).
Referee: Ben Thaler
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