Kiwis coach Michael Maguire lauded his side's defensive steel to keep England scoreless in their stunning 34-0 win in the third and final test at Leeds today.

The Kiwis ran rampant scoring six-tries-to-none in front of 32,186 fans at Elland Road to finish their end of year tour on a high after allowing the series to slip from their grasp with narrow losses in the first two tests in Hull and Liverpool.

Maguire was thrilled with his side's clinical play that saw them convert almost every attacking chance into points but took great satisfaction from the fact New Zealand were able to shut the door on the home side.

England spent periods camped down on the visitor's goal line and had plenty of opportunities to post points but poor execution and desperate and relentless tackling saw the Kiwis keep their line intact.


"It would be nice to have a few more games because this group is definitely growing and I felt like they had a performance like this in them," Maguire told Radio Sport.

"To be able to hold an international team to zero is very pleasing. Defensively it was something we set out to do, to make sure that we were stronger across the five or six week period, and they've been able to show that tonight."

Esan Marsters of New Zealand offloads as Oliver Gildart of England challenges. Photo / Getty
Esan Marsters of New Zealand offloads as Oliver Gildart of England challenges. Photo / Getty

After being their own worst enemies at times in both of the opening test defeats, Maguire believes the much-improved performance was the result of the Kiwis having realised where they had gone wrong.

They looked to be heading down the same path inside the first quarter when passes wide of the ruck resulted in errors through left wing Ken Maumalo and back-rower Issac Liu, but they tightened up their play and defended well to hang on to a 6-0 lead.

The Kiwis had been guilty of fading late in the first half of the first two encounters but held their nerve and repelled a wave of England attack before striking back with halfback and man of the match Kodi Nikorima laying on a try for Liu, before scoring one himself to secure an 18-0 halftime lead.

"I just think their understanding of how they need to play [changed]," Maguire said of the dramatic turnaround in his side's play.

"International footy can com,e down to one play and in the last couple of games we've pushed passes when we shouldn't have and we (haven't) applied pressure when we needed to. The group did that today and we've got to make sure that that's how we do things moving forward."

Nikorima's influence continued after the break when his pin-point kick found Maumalo for his second four-pointer, before late tries to forwards Jesse Bromwich and Joseph Tapine completed the rout.


Five-eighth Shaun Johnson was also strong on attack and kicked four conversions from five attempts before interchange forward Isaiah Papali'i kicked the final goal in his test debut.

"To have both our two halves really leading the way, pushing the team around, and also having the big fellas in the middle lay the platform was very pleasing," said Maguire.

"It's being able to do that continuously now and obviously how they go around in their club football, and I'll keep my eye on all of those sorts of things.

"But the fact we've got young Brandon Smith and we've got Issac Luke still sitting at home, we've got a few choices that will keep these boys very hungry to move forward."

England coach Wayne Bennett was less than impressed with his side's effort and rued an obstruction call and a foot on the sideline that saw Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson denied two four-pointers.

"I wasn't happy with the performance but accepted what happened out there and understand it better than most so can move on from there," said Bennett.

"You never see scorelines like that coming but it happens. We got to the try line on a couple of occasions and they weren't deemed to be tries so it just runs that way some days.

"We've got to keep in perspective we had two great games and played great football. That's why we won the series."