SEAN O’Loughlin savoured England’s “massive” opening Test victory against New Zealand.
The host nation roared back from 10-0 down to claim a gutsy 26-12 triumph - and take a 1-0 lead in the three-game series.
It’s massive. We’ve spoken about being close for a while now, and to go 1-0 up, it’s a huge start to the series to get the victorySean O’Loughlin
Wigan captain O’Loughlin added the crowning glory with a powerful try in the 76th minute to end any fears of a Kiwi fightback.
It was England’s first win against the Kiwis since 2011 and it raised hopes they can topple the world’s No.1-ranked side and win the series.
O’Loughlin said: “It’s massive. We’ve spoken about being close for a while now, and to go 1-0 up, it’s a huge start to the series to get the victory.
“Now we need to kick on from this.”
In front of a near-capacity 23,526 crowd at Hull’s KC Stadium, England fell 10-0 down but battled back to lock the scores 12-12 at the break - and powered clear with a dominant, composed outing in the second-half.
“I wasn’t worried (at 10-0 down), but it wasn’t the start we planned,” said O’Loughlin. “Defensively we were off, they were rolling us down the middle, and we spoke about their big bodies and we knew we had to handle that. We put our edges under pressure by not gaining control of that.
“But on the flip side we did well to turn it around before half-time and come in even.
“Their last game was earlier than ours, so we had a bit more game-fitness, and as the series goes on you normally see teams improve.
“They’re a better side than that - but we are as well.”
His Wigan team-mate George Williams showed some nice touches - including neat passes for their two first-half tries - and Joe Burgess, John Bateman and Liam Farrell also started.
Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney said: “England were very impressive in the second half, and put us under a lot of pressure. We couldn’t match their intensity.”
He was philosophical about a harsh video refereeing call which went against his side in the opening half. “We may get that decision next week,” he said.
The series moves to London’s Olympic Stadium next Saturday before concluding in Wigan the following week.