England recovered from a 0-10 deficit to beat the Kiwis 26-12 in the first Test at Hull's KC Stadium on Sunday.
The New Zealanders began impressively by creating tries for Tohu Harris and Sam Moa in the opening 16 minutes.
They were making all the play at that stage but a freakish England try soon after and a bewildering no-try decision against the Kiwis late in first half dramatically altered the flow of the contest.
Just two minutes after Moa's try had put the Kiwis 10-0 up, an Elliott Whitehead offload ricocheted off fullback Zak Hardaker's knee, the ball went loose as Peta Hiku tried to gather it and then finished up in a rather lucky try for hooker Josh Hodgson.
After an Issac Luke penalty put the Kiwis 12-6 ahead they went to their left edge with fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck putting centre Jordan Kahu over for what looked to be a slickly-executed try. Referee Ben Thaler, from England, hesitated and asked for a review on a possible obstruction; the video referee concurred judging Harris had impeded halfback George Williams in the lead-up and rubbed the try out. The Kiwis were astonished and the commentators were equally bemused and confused believing there was no evidence to support a clear obstruction.
Worse still England went downfield from the resulting penalty and arranged a try for interchange forward Brett Ferres. Effectively a 12--point try it enabled England to go to halftime level at 12-12 rather than down 6-16 or 6-18.
The home side edged ahead 14-12 with a Gareth Widdop penalty after the break before Ferres caught out the Kiwis on their own line, somehow getting across to score between the posts.
Down 12-20 the Kiwis had time to come back but faltered on the back of a number of errors before England captain Sean O'Loughlin scored in the dying minutes to cement a 14-point victory.
The second Test is at the Olympic Stadium in London next Saturday.
Match details | KC Stadium, Hull
England 26 (Brett Ferres 2, Josh Hodgson, Sean O'Loughlin tries; Gareth Widdop 4 conversions, penalty).
Kiwis 12 (Tohu Harris, Sam Moa tries; Issac Luke conversion, penalty).
Referee: Ben Thaler (England)
Kiwis | Roger Tuivasa-Sheck; Jason Nightingale, Dean Whare, Jordan Kahu, Shaun Kenny-Dowall; Peta Hiku, Tuimoala Lolohea; Jesse Bromwich, Issac Luke (co-captain), Sam Moa; Kevin Proctor, Tohu Harris; Adam Blair (co-captain). Interchange: Kodi Nikorima, Martin Taupau, Ben Matulino, Sio Siua Taukeiaho.
England | Zak Hardaker; Joe Burgess, Kallum Watkins, John Bateman, Ryan Hall; Gareth Widdop, George Williams; James Graham, Josh Hodgson; Chris Hill; Elliott Whitehead; Liam Farrell; Sean O’Loughlin (c). Interchange: James Roby, Thomas Burgess, Mike Cooper, Brett Ferres.