England 20 New Zealand 14

Tommy Makinson scored a hat-trick
Tommy Makinson scored a hat-trick

England battled back to clinch a thrilling Test win at Anfield - and clinch a series win against New Zealand.

Tommy Makinson's hat-trick try ultimately proved decisive and they will take a 2-0 lead into the third and final Test at Leeds' Elland Road next week.

It was an absorbing Test match and an awesome triumph. Just like last week, the scores were locked at half-time.

And just like last week, a piece of individual magic from a Wigan junior ultimately proved decisive!

St Helens winger Makinson, a former St Judes amateur who was once in the Warriors' youth programme, cut back into scattered traffic and turned on the afterburners to reach the line for a 74th minute touchdown.

Michael Maguire's Kiwis rallied to try and salvage the match but England's stubborn defence saw them hold out for a stunning victory enjoyed by the majority of the 26,000-plus crowd and the hundreds of thousands more watching on TV.

As expected, injured Sean O'Loughlin was replaced in the 17 by Castleford's Adam Milner - the only change to the side which triumphed 18-16 in Hull eight days earlier.

That meant four Warriors players were represented - Oliver Gildart, Sam Tomkins, George Williams and John Bateman. Those seeking local ties could take comfort from the fact that of the seven England backs, five were juniors at Wigan amateur clubs.

The first-half was a thunderous, scrappy, tight affair which the Kiwis dominated but - just like the previous week - the sides were level at the break.

England broke the deadlock in the 6th minute. Tomkins was taken out late and after a subsequent skirmish had died down, Jake Connor struck a penalty.

But on a pitch shortened to around 90m to accomodate the ingoals, the Kiwis swallowed up the metres, allowing Dalin Watene-Zelezniak to slip beyond Tomkins for a try which Shaun Johnson converted.

Their crisp attack was a warning of their capabilities and winger Jordan Rapana twice went close as the hosts struggled to make inroads into their opponents' half. During that half-hour spell, Luke Thompson was superb, bringing energy and aggression to the middle.

His former St Edmund Arrowsmith team-mate - Gildart - spilled twice when the ball was swung to the right edge, and moves to the left fared no better.

But with five minutes to go before the break, they were awarded a penalty in range and elected to tap - and the decision paid off.

After George Burgess was held up over the line, WIlliams skidded a ball into the ingoal to force a repeat set and from the resulting attack, the stand-off floated a looping ball over which Makinson raced onto to lock the score.

Jake Connor's stabbed conversion attempt was off target but it ensured the mood among the English fans was optimistic at the break.

The Kiwis poked back ahead early after the restart. The excellent Watene-Zelezniak blazed through and had the composure to send Ken Maumalo over for a try. Johnson's goal made it 12-6 and a penalty in the 50th minute wedged an eight-point margin between the sides.

There was niggle throughout and when James Fisher-Harris took out Tomkins late, it sparked a melee which raised the volume inside a half-full Anfield and more importantly, gave England vital possession.

Their attacks were panicky and clunky at first but when they got it together they showed their potency, a sweeping move to the left finishing with Makinson touching down. Connor, who provided a gem of a final pass, was unable to convert but at 14-10 entering the final quarter, it offered them renewed hope.

Tom Burgess has a try chalked off by the video referee - brother George may be in hot water amid suggestions he gouged Kiwi captain Watene-Zelezniak - before Jake Connor wriggled through a tight defence to lock the score. His conversion-attempt rebounded off the upright. But England were growing in strength and Makinson soared over for a try given the approval by the video referee.