England 36-18 New Zealand: Wayne Bennett's men stage comeback in Denver

England's Gareth Widdop congratulates Elliot Whitehead following his try v New Zealand
England's Gareth Widdop congratulates Elliot Whitehead following his try v New Zealand

England fought back from 12-0 down to beat New Zealand 36-18 in their ground-breaking Test match in Denver.

An encouraging crowd of 19,320 at the Mile High Stadium witnessed an impressive fightback from Wayne Bennett's men, who looked way off the pace in energy-sapping conditions in the opening quarter but finished the game in total control.

Second rower Elliott Whitehead scored two of his side's six tries while outside backs Jake Connor and Tommy Makinson also got on the scoresheet on debut as the new-look Kiwis were played off the park in the second half.

Stalwarts James Graham, on his record-extending 40th appearance, James Roby, Gareth Widdop and Sam Burgess all came to the fore but it was the introduction of the four substitutes from the bench that turned the game on its head.

New Zealand had seven new faces in the starting line-up for the first game under Michael Maguire as they began a rebuilding process following a dreadful World Cup and they could hardly have made a better start.

While England looked lethargic in the opening quarter, the Kiwis were full of energy and caused a host of problems for their opponents with their dangerous offload game.

Stand-off Kodi Nikorima shrugged off the attempted tackle of Jonny Lomax who appeared to be still feeling the effects of a late hit from Martin Tapau, to get centre Esan Marsters over for the game's first try.

Marsters was a handful on his debut and came up with two clean breaks that ought to have produced more tries as England struggled to stay in the game, although the Burgess brothers, under the watchful eye of Hollywood actor and South Sydney owner Russell Crowe, threatened to launch the comeback on their own.

Sam was held up over the line and brother Tom was unfortunate to have a try disallowed before England fell further behind as Issac Luke got full-back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak over for their second score.

Jamayne Isaako added both conversions to make it 12-0 but the introduction of substitutes Connor and Scott Taylor introduced much-needed impetus for England, with the latter coming up with two tryscoring passes to get them back into the contest.

Hall produced a trademark acrobatic finish to claim his 35th try eight minutes from the break, with Widdop adding the goal, and second rower Whitehead went through a gap for the second four minutes later.

Widdop was wide with his second conversion attempt but brought the scores level five minutes into the second half with a penalty, awarded for a cynical foul on John Bateman by Luke, who was fortunate not to be sin-binned for treading on the Wigan player's hand.

England hit the front for the first time seven minutes later when Makinson gathered Widdop's inch-perfect kick and got Whitehead over for his second try.

Widdop kicked his second conversion and added a second penalty, this time from halfway, after the Kiwis again kicked out on the full.

The fightback was complete on the hour when Connor used his strength to make the initial break and then showed his confidence with an outrageous dummy to go over for an individual try.

As the Kiwis began to suffer the effects of playing at high altitude in 30 degree temperatures, Whitehead went 70 metres before sending Makinson over and Watene-Zelezniak went over for his second before Bateman added England's sixth try just before the end.

Related rugby league links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read

La Bague Au Roi made it a Christmas to remember1

Warren Greatrex: Winter wonderland

Warren Greatrex is having a brilliant time of things and the upbeat trainer from Upper Lambourn provides us with all the latest.

The latest done deals and transfer rumours with Sporting Life
2

The Transfer Market: Live

Keep up with all the latest transfer news reports and rumours along with the details of all the done deals and latest betting odds.

Ben Coley's Farmers Insurance Open preview3

Farmers Insurance Open preview

Ben Coley believes Patrick Cantlay is perfectly prepared to land his second PGA Tour in this week's Farmers Insurance Open.

Sporting Life's Chelsea transfer round-up: Will the Blues make January additions?4

Chelsea transfer round-up

It could be a busy end to the transfer window for Chelsea, with numerous players linked with moves involving the Stamford Bridge club.

Check out our latest daily racing preview5

Wednesday's racing preview

Anita Chambers backs Caspar The Cub to get back to winning ways on Wednesday - she has a tip for every race.

Most Read

La Bague Au Roi made it a Christmas to remember1

Warren Greatrex: Winter wonderland

Warren Greatrex is having a brilliant time of things and the upbeat trainer from Upper Lambourn provides us with all the latest.

The latest done deals and transfer rumours with Sporting Life
2

The Transfer Market: Live

Keep up with all the latest transfer news reports and rumours along with the details of all the done deals and latest betting odds.

Ben Coley's Farmers Insurance Open preview3

Farmers Insurance Open preview

Ben Coley believes Patrick Cantlay is perfectly prepared to land his second PGA Tour in this week's Farmers Insurance Open.

Sporting Life's Chelsea transfer round-up: Will the Blues make January additions?4

Chelsea transfer round-up

It could be a busy end to the transfer window for Chelsea, with numerous players linked with moves involving the Stamford Bridge club.

Check out our latest daily racing preview5

Wednesday's racing preview

Anita Chambers backs Caspar The Cub to get back to winning ways on Wednesday - she has a tip for every race.

Racing Tips

Daily Nap: Top of the class

Matt Brocklebank is in the Sporting Life Daily Nap hotseat on Wednesday and he reckons Warren Greatrex's Top Rock Talula can justify support at Lingfield.

Check out our latest daily racing preview

Wednesday's racing preview

Anita Chambers backs Caspar The Cub to get back to winning ways on Wednesday - she has a tip for every race.

They race at Happy Valley on Wednesday

Happy Valley: On the Jolly?

We preview the Southorn Handicap at Happy Valley on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports Racing at 2.15, with a rundown of each runner and a look at potential tactics.

Next Race Off

06:45 Kolkata
5
(1)
Poras
J: Mohit Singh
4
(3)
Yuvan
J: A Sandesh

Football Tips

Our best bets for Burton v Manchester City

Expect goals at the Pirelli

With a 9/1 winner in the first-leg, Tom Carnduff is hoping for more profit as Burton take on Manchester City on Wednesday.

Aux Ptits Soins streaks clear at Cheltenham

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in January 2019.

Get your bets on!

Our best bets

Check out all of our available betting tips and previews of the forthcoming sporting action.