Rugby League World Cup 2013: New Zealand 'kept fighting'

Highlights: New Zealand 20-18 England

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney praised his side's battling qualities as they scored a last-minute converted try to beat England in their Rugby League World Cup semi-final at Wembley.

Shaun Johnson scored with the last play of the game as the world champions secured a 20-18 victory to set up a final against Australia next Saturday.

"We kept fighting and hanging in there. We were fortunate," Kearney said.

"They put a lot of pressure on us but I was always confident."

Defeat leaves England 'bitterly disappointed'

Two tries by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and three Johnson kicks helped give the Kiwis a 14-8 advantage but England hit back through Kallum Watkins and Sam Burgess to lead 18-14 into the final minute.

And Kearney admitted he was unable to watch the final moments of the game.

Asked how he dealt with the late drama, he said: "I was under the desk so I don't know. I was always confident that we could come up with an opportunity and we gave ourselves a chance with half a minute to go.

"If you're good enough, you're good enough. If you're under pressure like we were but don't open the floodgates, you have a chance."

The 41-year-old knows his side will need to do better in the final at Old Trafford, when Australia will bid to avenge their defeat in the 2008 showpiece.

"I'm mindful that a performance like that from us will not be good enough next week," he added.

"We were gritty and tough and there are a lot of areas we need to polish up on but I know we can improve."