England fought back from 12-0 down to beat New Zealand 36-18 in their ground-breaking Test match in Denver.
An encouraging crowd of 19,320 at the Mile High Stadium witnessed an impressive fightback from Wayne Bennett’s men, who looked way off the pace in energy-sapping conditions in the opening quarter but finished the game in total control.
Second rower Elliott Whitehead scored two of his side’s six tries while outside backs Jake Connor and Tommy Makinson also got on the scoresheet on debut as the new-look Kiwis were played off the park in the second half.
England captain Sean O'Loughlin said: "It’s a great victory, in unbelievably tough conditions. It was the hottest day since we’ve been here and the heat took its toll a little bit but the altitude was probably the biggest thing. Both sides felt it and it made the game scrappy at times but you just get through it. We’ve had a good week and hopefully put on a great game for everyone to see and, most importantly, got the win which is what we came here to do. They had a good start but we fought back and showed some guts. We were reasonably happy at half-time and we kicked on in the second half. The atmosphere about the place was brilliant, it might not have been full but the crowd was right on top of you and you could feel there was a good atmosphere.”
Sam Burgess said: "The first 20 minutes was as fatigued as I’ve ever been in a game but it’s been a great week and it’s been successful,” said the former Bradford forward. I know there have been critics but I thought both teams played with passion and heart and effort and that’s what Test match football is all about. It was great for us to be here and another good chance for us to play together again as a team.”