England 20-14 New Zealand: Tommy Makinson's hat-trick seals the series

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Highlights: England edge Kiwis in thrilling comeback
International Test series
England (6) 20
Tries: Makinson (3), Connor Goals: Connor, Tomkins
New Zealand (6) 14
Tries: Watene-Zelezniak, Maumalo Goals: Johnson 3

Tommy Makinson scored an impressive hat-trick of tries as England sealed the three-match series with a 20-14 victory over New Zealand at Anfield.

The St Helens winger followed a thumping try-saving tackle with three well-taken tries as England fought back to win a bruising second Test.

Makinson's decisive score, in which he weaved through the Kiwi defence to touch down, completed a superb display.

Jake Connor claimed England's other try as the hosts overturned a 14-6 deficit.

Victory gave England the series before next Sunday's final Test in Leeds.

Connor put the hosts into an early lead with a penalty before Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored the opening try for the visitors.

England drew level before the interval after a smart finish out wide by Makinson.

New Zealand regained the lead five minutes after the break as Watene-Zelezniak went clean through before feeding Ken Maumalo on the wing, for a simple run in.

Shaun Johnson added a further two points before the hosts enjoyed a resurgence after Makinson added his second try of the match.

With a series victory in sight, England piled on the pressure and Tom Burgess crossed the whitewash, only to be held up by three Kiwis defenders.

However, parity was restored moments later when Connor spun his marker to fall over the line as England capitalised on a dropped possession by the Kiwis.

Makinson added his third and completed the comeback, darting inside off the wing, picking a path to the line and dotting down to send the Liverpudlian crowd into raptures.

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Dramatic Makinson hat-trick try seals victory

The Makinson show

The 27-year-old flyer was the difference between the two sides as England claimed their second successive series victory over the Kiwis.

Makinson's outstanding defensive work helped ease the pressure on the hosts as New Zealand came flying out of the blocks.

With the visitors having taken the lead through Watene-Zelezniak, Kevin Proctor was bearing down on the England line, only to be stopped by a fierce tackle from Makinson.

He coped well under the high ball and was brilliant at turning defence into attack by carrying possession out from deep.

The Wigan-born flyer opened his account - drawing England level - two minutes before the break with a good finish in the corner after George Williams' accurate pass over the top.

Makinson's second came after a cute flick-on from Connor in the corner, while the third showed great individual skill.

Having been fed the ball on the touchline, the wide man showed blistering pace to dart inside and finish well to hand England the series with one game to play.

Kiwi promise in Watene-Zelezniak/Nikorima axis

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored the first try of the match as New Zealand dominated early on at Anfield

New Zealand showed intent to revive their series chances from the opening moments, and 23-year-old Watene-Zelezniak was at the heart of everything they tried.

The full-back scored the first try of the match after bursting on to a weighted pass by Nikorima from a great angle, to evade Sam Tomkins' attempted tackle.

That same combination worked again for the visitors' second try when Nikorima's sharp movement and flat pass created room for his captain from deep, although he still had work to do.

Watene-Zelezniak sprinted clear before producing a precise pass out wide to pick out Maumalo for an easy run-in.

Ultimately, the Kiwis fell short after failing to punish England with enough points after their early dominance.

Talisman Johnson had a relatively quiet game by his high standards but in 24-year-old Nikorima and Watene-Zelezniak, New Zealand have a talented playmaker and a world-class athlete with the best years of their careers ahead.

Tommy Makinson scored 12 points at Anfield
Makinson was playing in his third international after making his debut against New Zealand in the summer

Reaction from Anfield

England head coach Wayne Bennett told BBC Sport: "I have always been proud of them since I took the job - today they delivered it at another standard.

"We started last year in the World Cup in Australia and built on that. These games will give us confidence in the way they are won.

"Tommy Makinson was unbelievable. He was last week too. Today he was just in a league of his own."

New Zealand head coach Michael Maguire: "International footy brings that - the best of each country playing against each other.

"We've got a group in there hurting. Some harsh lessons learned, that's for sure.

"England have been performing very well and are obviously a team who have been together for a while.

"They understand that each set is so crucial. As a New Zealand team, we need to apply that and take some harsh lessons."

Former England forward Jon Wilkin: "Tommy Makinson has been the best winger in Super League all year. He carries the ball as strong as anybody and his work-rate is fantastic."

Ex-Great Britain coach Brian Noble: "This England pack are as good as any in the world. They are special. They are so difficult to stop."

Line-ups

England: J Lomax (St Helens); J McGillvary (Huddersfield), O Gildart (Wigan), J Connor (Hull), T Makinson (St Helens); G Williams (Wigan), S Tomkins (Wigan); T Burgess (South Sydney), J Hodgson (Canberra), J Graham (St George Illawarra, capt), E Whitehead (Canberra), J Bateman (Wigan), L Thompson (St Helens).

Interchange: D Clark (Warrington), C Hill (Warrington), G Burgess (South Sydney), A Milner (Castleford).

New Zealand: D Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith, capt); K Maumalo (NZ Warriors), E Marsters (Wests Tigers), J Manu (Sydney Roosters), J Rapana (Canberra); S Johnson (NZ Warriors), K Nikorima (Brisbane); J Bromwich (Melbourne), B Smith (Melbourne), J Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), K Proctor (Gold Coast), I Liu (Sydney Roosters), A Blair (NZ Warriors).

Interchange: K Bromwich (Melbourne), L Ah Mau (St George Illawarra), M Taupau (Manly), J Fisher-Harris (Penrith).

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