|International Test series|
|New Zealand (18) 34|
|Tries: Maumalo (2), Liu, Nikorima, Bromwich, Tapine Goals: Johnson 5|
New Zealand ran in six tries to beat England 34-0 in Leeds in the third and final Test of a series already won by the hosts.
Winger Ken Maumalo scored an early try, while Isaac Liu and Kodi Nikorima tries gave the Kiwis an 18-0 half-time lead.
England had two first-half tries ruled out after video reviews.
Maumalo touched down in the corner before Jesse Bromwich and Joseph Tapine scored under the posts in the final 10 minutes to complete the rout.
A game of fine margins
New Zealand came flying out of the blocks at Elland Road as they looked to deny England a 3-0 series whitewash.
Maumalo’s early try handed the visitors the lead but England were denied parity when Tommy Makinson, who scored a hat-trick in last week’s series-sealing win, had a try disallowed.
His diving finish into the corner was ruled out after a review because Tom Burgess was judged to have obstructed the New Zealand defence in the build-up.
The decision was met by groans from the home fans, and former Great Britain international Jonathan Davies, speaking on BBC commentary, said he “would have given the try” and that it was down to an “individual’s interpretation”.
Oliver Gildart was also denied a try by the television match official after Jermaine McGillvary’s initial kick through was deemed to have struck a Kiwi player’s knee before the England winger connected with the ball.
Had one of those tries been awarded, England would have had the chance to draw level with momentum behind them, but instead Liu added a second try for the visitors who never looked back.
Nikorima excels as Johnson finally arrives at the party
Man of the match Nikorima had a decisive hand in four of New Zealand’s six tries.
The 24-year-old produced the final pass for Liu’s and Bromwich’s tries, as well as scoring himself and kicking the ball behind the England defence for Maumalo to catch and claim his second try.
Nikorima’s try came just before the interval when he glided past England prop Chris Hill before trading passes with Shaun Johnson and dotting down under the posts.
Johnson has had a quiet series by his high standards, but he saved his best display for Leeds.
The New Zealand talisman played a big role in the opening try as his clever break gained valuable yards before the ball was recycled and Maumalo crossed in the corner.
The Kiwis had learned the lessons of the previous two defeats and their two star men came to the fore as they enjoyed their biggest win over England for 18 years.
‘We were just outplayed’ – what they said
England head coach Wayne Bennett: “We were just outplayed, and weren’t as good as we have been. New Zealand were on their game and deserve the win. We had our moments, if we could have taken one of those tries it could have been different.
“We have to learn from it and accept the fact they were too good.
“I’m not happy with the performance but I accept what happened. You never want to see that kind of score but it happens.
“We’ve got to keep it in perspective, we’ve won two great games, won the series and played great football.”
New Zealand head coach Michael Maguire: “It was one we needed. The boys have really put the effort in over the last six weeks and worked hard for a result like that. This group has really grown.
“We did the things we said we were going to do. I was really pleased the boys came together and put a lot of pressure on England.
“I have got a really big belief in this group. I think we have got something special, some real passionate young men.”
England captain James Graham: “Getting to captain your country in these circumstances wasn’t that great but I’m proud of the lads.
“There’s not a lot of experience in the team but everyone has taken it on and carried the flag forwards.”
Former New Zealand international Robbie Hunter-Paul: “Shaun Johnson was more of the general, moving things around, while Kodi Nikorima had the X-Factor – he’s really come of age in this tournament.”