Kiwis thrash England 34-0 to avoid rugby league whitewash

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LEEDS, England (AP) — England lost its scoring touch and unbeaten record for 2018 as New Zealand cruised to a 34-0 win at Elland Road to avoid a rugby league series whitewash on Sunday.

England went into the third test with high hopes of a fourth successive win over the Kiwis, but a scoreline of six tries to nil accurately summed up an anti-climactic end to the season. The Kiwis led 18-0 at halftime.

Close-fought wins in Hull and Liverpool earned England the series, but this was more like the New Zealand side which showed its class in a victory over Australia a month ago.

Scrumhalf Kodi Nikorima, who plays under England coach Wayne Bennett at club level with Brisbane, was the destroyer-in-chief after scoring one exceptional try and creating three others.

Winger Tom Makinson, England's newly crowned Golden Boot winner who was named player of the series, enjoyed two spectacular finishes but had both tries disallowed. England center Oliver Gildart was similarly denied by video referee Phil Bentham as the luck ran out for Bennett's men in front of a near-capacity crowd of 32,186.

Before kickoff, the players stood shoulder to shoulder for the Last Post and a minute's silence on Remembrance Day but, once the action got underway, the rivalry was as passionate as ever, with referee Gerard Sutton showing remarkable leniency after several early high shots from the Kiwis went unpunished.

The tourists took the lead when prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves squeezed a pass out of a three-man tackle to create the space for fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to work winger Ken Maumalo over for the first of his two tries.

England had plenty of possession and most of the territory in the first half, helped by a run of four successive penalties and some intelligent probing from fullback Jonny Lomax, but they couldn't score.

England's Tommy Makinson tries to skip past a tackle by New Zealand's Jared Waerea-Hargreaves during their International Rugby League match. Photo/AP
England's Tommy Makinson tries to skip past a tackle by New Zealand's Jared Waerea-Hargreaves during their International Rugby League match. Photo/AP
New Zealand team members perform the Haka before their International Rugby League match against England, at Elland Road in Leeds. Photo/AP
New Zealand team members perform the Haka before their International Rugby League match against England, at Elland Road in Leeds. Photo/AP

New Zealand was far more clinical finishing with two tries in the last eight minutes of the first half. Nikorima created one for second-rower Isaac Liu and scored one himself after taking a return pass from Shaun Johnson, who kicked a third conversion to extend their lead to 18-0.

Four minutes into the second half, Maumalo outjumped the diminutive Jermaine McGillvary to claim his second try that extended the Kiwis' lead to 22-0.

New Zealand was temporarily reduced to 12 men when Waerea-Hargreaves was sin-binned for a flop on hooker Josh Hodgson after he had been brought down — just short of the tryline — but their defence stood firm.

Makinson had a second try chalked off after 57 minutes when slow-motion replays revealed he put a foot in touch shortly before an acrobatic finish in the corner.

England also went down a man after McGillvary was shown a yellow card for holding down in the tackle, and the Kiwis took advantage to run in two further tries in the last 11 minutes.

Nikorima got prop Jesse Bromwich striding through a gap for their fifth try, and the former skipper supplied a neat pass for substitute Joseph Tapine to go over for his side's sixth try, with Josh Papali'i adding the goal on his debut to wrap up their biggest win over England in 18 years.

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New Zealand 34 (Ken Maumalo 2, Isaac Liu, Kodi Nikorima, Jesse Bromwich, Joseph Tapine tries; Shaun Johnson 4 goals, Josh Papali'i goal), England 0. HT: 18-0

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