JAKE CONNOR was the local hero as England kicked off their three-Test series against New Zealand with an 18-16 win.
Playing on his home ground, the Hull star accounted for ten of his side’s points in front of a 17,649 crowd. There was also a stylish debut try for Wigan’s Oliver Gildart as Wayne Bennett’s team came from behind to take the spoils.
England got off to a flying start with a fourth-minute score from Sam Tomkins, converted by Connor.
New Zealand levelled on 12 minutes, when Esan Marsters went over and Shaun Johnson added the extras, then went ahead just after the half-hour mark through Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. Johnson added a conversion from wide out.
The scores were level at the break, after England were awarded a penalty try when Connor was illegally tackled as he went over the line. The former Huddersfield man tagged on the two.
There were three penalty goals in the second half, as Johnson landed kicks either side off a strike by Connor, but Gildart won it when he broke free down the right and went in for the crucial score on 67 minutes.
The sides meet again at Anfield on Sunday, November 4.
England: Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Jake Connor, Oliver Gildart, Jermaine McGillvary, George Williams, Sam Tomkins, Tom Burgess, Josh Hodgson, James Graham, John Bateman, Elliott Whitehead, Sean O’Loughlin. Subs: Luke Thompson, Chris Hill, George Burgess, Daryl Clark.
New Zealand: Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Ken Maumalo, Esan Marsters, Joseph Manu, Jordan Rapana, Shaun Johnson, Kodi Nikorima, Jesse Bromwich, Brandon Smith, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Kevin Proctor, Isaac Liu, James Fisher-Harris. Subs: Kenny Bromwich, Leeson Ah Mau, Martin Taupau, Joseph Tapine.
Full match report and reaction in Monday’s League Express.