For 65 minutes of an absorbing game in Warrington England were more than a match for a strong Kiwi side that included seven members of the previous weekend's victorious Test team and eight others who had previously played for their country.
But then the Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree, again impressive at this level, blotted his copy book by knocking on as he played the ball. The Kiwis seized on that possession and some fluent handling ended with Motu Tony supplying the pass for Henry Fa'afili to score on his home ground.
Almost immediately, Crabtree's team-mate Chris Thorman, who had played well despite suffering from tonsillitis, fumbled a difficult pass in his own 20. In trying to smuggle the ball back to Lee Radford, he presented it to Paul Whatuira and New Zealand had a four-point lead. That was extended to eight in the last minute when the man of the match, Lance Hohaia, scored a fifth try.
Hohaia stood out throughout the game, but England had stars of their own, particularly Mark Calderwood, with his two tries in the first half.
His first was an example of opportunism, as he sneaked in to touch down from Thorman's kick, but his second was a classic wingman's effort, drawing in Fa'afili and then beating him on the outside with a change of pace.
In between, Manu Vatuvei had kept New Zealand in touch from Hohaia's high kick and some of the exuberant handling that typifies their current style brought them a second try through Shontayne Hape.
The Kiwis also took the lead early in the second half when another pin-point kick from Hohaia paid off for Jake Webster. England then struck twice, with David Hodgson going over from Richard Mathers' long pass and Crabtree stepping through from Thorman's sublime back-handed flick.
Although they could not hang on their coach, Karl Harrison, was still enthused by his team's performance. "I'm very proud to be associated with these guys,'' he said. "Some of them should have been in the senior squad from the start.''
England: Mathers; Calderwood (both Leeds), Sykes (London), Westwood (Warrington), Hodgson (Salford); Thorman (Huddersfield), Robinson (Salford); Crabtree (Huddersfield), Alker (Salford), Wood (Warrington), Wild (Wigan), Radford (Bradford), Wilkin (St Helens). Substitutes used: Jones-Buchanan (Leeds), Reardon (Bradford), Griffin (Wakefield), Lynch (Bradford).
New Zealand: Fa'afili (Warrington); Webster (Melbourne), Whatuira (Wests Tigers),
Hape (Bradford), Vatuvei (NZ Warriors); Tony (Hull), Hohaia; Palea'aesina (both NZ Warriors), Faiumu (N Queensland), Puletua, Anderson (both NZ Warriors), Lauiti'iti (Leeds), Harrison (Wests). Substitutes used: Paul (Bradford), Vagana (NZ Warriors), Poching (Leeds), Pritchard (Penrith).
Referee: J Robinson (Australia).
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