Kiwis beat England 17-16 in Four Nations opener

HUDDERSFIELD, England (AP) " Sam Burgess' comeback rugby league match for England finished like his last appearance, spoiled by halfback Shaun Johnson in another New Zealand win on Saturday.

Johnson scored a 70-meter intercept try and the winning drop goal as the Kiwis won 17-16 to open their Four Nations account.

Burgess was typically inspiring in his first match for England since the 2013 Rugby League World Cup semifinals, but his side was guilty of squandering chances in the face of a sturdy Kiwis defence. Second-rower John Bateman was held up over the line and prop James Graham had a try disallowed for a double movement leaving England with only a couple of penalties for dominating the first half-hour.

New Zealand ended the half 6-4 in front after Jordan Kahu kicked a penalty and helped to set up winger Jordan Rapana's try.

Within two minutes of the new half, New Zealand doubled its score when Johnson intercepted Gareth Widdop and was away.

England replied almost immediately through right winger Jermaine McGillvray on his home ground.

Rapana's second try began with a superb offload by replacement Manu Ma'u.

Into space, Rapana ran over fullback Jonny Lomax to score, but Kahu's conversion rebounded off the near post, and England was within six points.

Then the home side was level after Widdop's overhead flick-on flew to left wing Ryan Hall, who held off the defence to plunk down his 29th try in 29 tests. Widdop converted from the sideline to make it 16-16, but Johnson broke the deadlock in the 65th minute with a drop goal that gave the Kiwis an easier path than England to the final at Anfield on Nov. 20.

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New Zealand 17 (Jordan Rapana 2, Shaun Johnson tries; Jordan Kahu 2 goals, Johnson drop goal), England 16 (Jermaine McGillvray, Ryan Hall tries; Gareth Widdop 4 goals). HT: 6-4

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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