No excuses, no qualms from the Kiwis about the controversial penalty try or somewhat questionable officiating in their series-opening loss to England. Just a willingness to absorb lessons from this chilling reality check in Hull, and a desire to fight to save the series in Liverpool next week.

Michael Maguire, clearly frustrated his side blew a match there for the taking, delivered a few home truths after watching the script ignored in the 18-16 loss. While more reserved speaking publicly, in the sheds Maguire gave the Kiwis both barrels.

"I don't want to give away too much but he was very stern and direct with us so we know what we have to do leading into this week," Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak said. "It starts tomorrow."

Maguire lamented drop balls, being on the wrong side of a 9-5 penalty count; the failure to kick deep on last play options, and the crucial defensive error which saw several Kiwis turn in and allow English centre Oliver Gildart to sprint 50 metres for the match-winning try.


Despite the fine margin, Maguire refused to blame the result on a penalty try awarded just before half time against Watene-Zelezniak for sliding into a prone Jake Connor, who had Shaun Johnson holding him up over the line.

After leading Wigan for two years Maguire knows in the north, the heart of English rugby league, visiting teams never get 50/50 calls.

"I'd have to have another look at it," Maguire said. "It's one of those moments in a game you've got to be able to handle and get through. There were other times there where we could have hung onto the ball or held an offload. Those are the sorts of things we need to get better at as a group.

"It doesn't matter what's thrown at you you've got to deal with it. That's where this group will grow. Being able to handle the environment is all part of it.

"They're very marginal calls on all those but you've got to make sure you get them in your favour."

Watene-Zelezniak attempted to protest the call at the time but post-match accepted his mistake.

"Rules are rules," he said. "We have to abide by them and it cost us a penalty try. I was just trying to get in there and save a try. He told me my hands didn't touch him before my knees did.

"We shot ourselves in the foot a few times and we paid the price. It was the total opposite that we did two weeks ago."


Naturally, England coach Wayne Bennett agreed with the decision.

"I know this much you're not allowed to go in with your knees. He knows that, those are the rules in Australia. He went in with his knees across the try-line.

"The reason they brought that rule in was because it is dangerous for the welfare of the player carrying the football. They got that part right. After that, whether it was a penalty try or not, I'm happy with it. That's the way I saw the incident in the moment."

With momentum from the upset of the Kangaroos now squandered, the Kiwis will rue one that got away after twice splitting the English defence rather easily in the first half to create tries for Watene-Zelezniak and rookie Tigers centre Esan Masters.

In the second half, though, they failed to build pressure with poor options or ill-discipline regularly letting England off the hook.

After such a high two weeks ago in Auckland, how this young and inexperienced Kiwis team reacts with the series now on the line will reveal everything about their true character.

Three matches into Maguire's tenure, rest assured this will not be a pleasant training week.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing how the boys do respond," Maguire said. "We're learning about each other all the time. This group has come together in a really strong manner and it's about how we face these sorts of little hurdles.

"It was two points in that game. That's what a test match is all about; finding that at the end of a game in a tight match.

"I've got a lot of quality out there. Who walks out on that field with a New Zealand jersey on there's an expectation, and this group is building that.

"It doesn't matter how old or young it's about what you do out on that field."