Winger Ryan Hall thought his latest international try would set up a memorable England win against New Zealand only for a familiar pattern to ruin hopes.
His score on the hour mark was a 29th effort in as many Tests and when Gareth Widdop converted from wide out it left Saturday’s game balanced at 16-16.
“Things were looking positive at that point but the Kiwis found a way to get down our end and stick that one over,” explained the Leeds Rhinos player, Shaun Johnson’s drop goal five minutes later proving the hosts’ undoing in their Ladbrokes Four Nations opener at Huddersfield.
“It’s happened not exactly that way before but where we’ve been in a good competitive game and just fell away at the last and not come away with the win.”
The 28-year-old’s score came from a stunning overhead, cut-out pass from Widdop, the sort of flair and ingenuity sadly missing when England pressed for victory in the latter stages.
“It was remarkable,” admitted Hall. “I said that as soon as I got up. I don’t know how he did it. But that’s why he’s England’s No 6. He is a good player and has set me up for a couple of tries before but that’s up there as one of the best.”
Hall’s centre Dan Sarginson crucially spilled in the 72nd minute as one gilt-edged chance disappeared.
“Little things like that have let us down today and in the past,” he said. “We just have to keep going and we will get the rhythm eventually of how to win these Test matches. But Sarge deserved his spot for what he did with Wigan at the end of the season and we have to have faith in him.”
England must beat Scotland in Coventry on Saturday and then world champions Australia the following week to have any hope of reaching the Anfield final.
Hall conceded: “We wanted four from four. Now we need three from four.”