A foul on the Hull man led to a crucial penalty try for England and he also kicked three goals from four attempts to enhance his growing reputation as an international-quality player.
England trailed three times, but refused to let New Zealand take a grip of the game and some resolute defence kept them in the contest. Connor reflected: “We came up against a tough Kiwi side; [it was] probably one of the toughest games I’ve played in.
“It wasn’t one for attack, it was more defence and I thought the effort in defence was outstanding. That’s what got us through the game.”
KCOM Stadium may be home for the 24-year-old, but he admitted playing there for England had a different feeling to his day job.
“It just lifts your shoulders even more, that confidence of going out and playing for your country,” he said.
“You know you have to step up to the mark because just a lapse of concentration, you switch off and they will score or do something.
“For me it was about concentrating for the 80 minutes and I thought I did that. My defence is something I’ve got to work on, but my one-on-one defence is definitely improving.
“I knew I had to do that against [Joseph] Manu, he is a lot bigger than he looks on television!
“I thought ‘I’m in for a battle here’ and I had that mindset to try and shut him down and do what I do best and try and get in his head, but he didn’t give me anything back.”