By Alicia Newton, nrl.com
New Zealand have avoided a series whitewash in dominating fashion with a crushing 34-0 victory over England in the third and final Test at Elland Road in Leeds on Sunday (Monday morning AEDT).
Kodi Nikorima was everywhere for the Kiwis to help guide the side to an 18-0 lead at half-time and the one-way traffic continued into the second with the record-breaking crowd of 32,186 silenced for most of the contest.
Despite conceding the series in the second Test, the Kiwis’ attitude was on song from the opening set on Remembrance Day and with England having three disallowed tries, New Zealand’s lead never looked under threat.
The early onslaught started in the fourth minute with a late offload from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves putting pressure on England’s defence for Ken Maumalo to step inside Jake Connor and Jonny Lomax to the line.
England were denied the chance to hit back through Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson with John Bateman ruled to have obstructed Kevin Proctor in the lead-up.
New Zealand had a try of their own disallowed three minutes later with Jamayne Isaako getting a foot on the line in a try-scoring opportunity.
A third disallowed try – this time to England – continued the stop-start flow to the game but the Kiwis put an end to the disoriented period with Nikorima timing a pin-point pass for Isaac Liu to dive over next to the posts untouched.
The Kiwis’ dominance in the first half was sealed when Nikorima shrugged away from Chris Hill in the middle of the paddock to link with Shaun Johnson for an 18-point advantage at the break.
Any thoughts of a comeback were extinguished early by the Kiwis with Nikorima placing a cross-field kick for Maumalo to outleap Jermaine McGillvary for his second try of the afternoon.
England lost Jake Connor to a head knock in the process to compound a disappointing end to the series despite retaining the Baskerville Shield.
New Zealand’s ill-discipline has been a weakness under Michael Maguire this series and that notion continued despite the lop-sided result with Waerea-Hargreaves sin-binned in the second half for repeated offences.
England were next to be reduced to 12 with McGillvary binned for a professional foul and the Kiwis pounced with a further two tries.
Jesse Bromwich capped a solid return to the international game with a try under the sticks, before Joseph Tapine crashed over the line in near identical fashion.
Kiwis debutant Isaiah Papali’i got on the field in the 68th minute for an afternoon to remember with the Warriors forward converting Tapine’s try moments before the siren.
The crowd found their voices late in the game with the 2018 season coming to a close but the result ultimately put a halt to England’s recent run of success against the Kiwis.
Both sides were a part of a spine-tingling Remembrance Day service in the pre-game ceremony and came together linked arm-in-arm during the ode and minute silence to cap off a series that produced everything for the international game.
Nikorima was named man of the match while Makinson added the George Smith Medal for player of the series to his Golden Boot triumph.