England have taken a 1-0 lead in their Test series against New Zealand, with a late try to Oliver Gildart sealing an 18-16 victory on Sunday morning (AEDT) in Hull.
Both sides struggled to control the game in frosty conditions, but a late offload from Canberra-bound John Bateman was enough for Gildart to race down the sideline and beat Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to the line with 12 minutes remaining.
The Kiwis will rue their discipline late in the contest after taking the lead twice through penalty goals. That came despite the visitors struggling with field position throughout the contest.
James Graham was one of the best for England with 125 metres from 14 carries, while Jesse Bromwich (158m) and Marty Taupau (135m) set a platform for the visitors in an otherwise evenly-poised battle through the middle.
England were first on the board through Sam Tomkins, who finished off an attacking raid after Tommy Makinson got over the top of Jordan Rapana to collect a cross-field kick and keep the ball alive.
The Kiwis then produced a slick movement of their own to level the scores with Esan Marsters crossing after an inside pass from Shaun Johnson.
England winger Jermaine McGillvary then fumbled a ball midway through the first half, an error that enabled Kodi Nikorima to send Watene-Zelezniak over on the ensuing play for a 12-6 lead to the Kiwis.
Watene-Zelezniak was then next to turn villain on the stroke of halftime when he allowed England to level the scores through local boy Jake Connor, who was awarded a penalty try as the Kiwis fullback came across in defence leading with his knees in a point-scoring opportunity.
Match: England v New Zealand
Round 2 -
Venue: Kingston Communications Stadium
- Fox League
The four-pointer proved decisive in the two-point loss for the Kiwis but coach Michael Maguire saw the game differently.
"I'll have to have another look before I make another comment," Maguire said.
"It's one of those moments in a game you have to handle, at this level it's all about situations in a game and how you handle that.
"There were other times where people could've held onto the ball or an offload. They're the sorts of things we as a group need to get better at."
Temperatures at KCOM Stadium dipped as both teams returned from the break but Johnson was full of running immediately after the break to earn a penalty with a weaving run, the Kiwis taking the two points on offer for a 14-12 lead.
It took England three minutes to take a penalty goal of their own with back-to-back penalties leaving Kiwis coach Michael Maguire fuming at his side's ill-discipline.
Gildart's try with 12 minutes remaining turned out to be the match-winner despite a last-minute surge from the visitors.
"It was a great centre's try," Bennett said of Gildart's effort.
"We don't see enough of it. He did a great job, ran 50 metres and beat two players on the way. It was a great second half, a great game actually and we couldn't have given anymore. We didn't have a bad player.
"There's about 10 guys that played for England in last year's World Cup that aren't here for injury reasons mainly. We're building some depth which is really important."
Both sides travel to Liverpool on Sunday ahead of their next clash at Anfield on November 4.