England 20 New Zealand 12: Brilliant England stun world champions to reach Four Nations final

England gained revenge for their World Cup defeats with a bruising victory over New Zealand to set up a showdown with Australia in the final of the Gillette Four Nations.

Winger Peter Fox marked his recall with a crucial two-try burst just before half-time. But England's heroes with their forwards, who won a war of attrition with their Kiwi counterparts at the Galpharm Stadium.

England led from the 10th minute and seized control with Fox's quickfire tries - but they were never able to relax against a fired-up Kiwis side determined to build on their World Cup triumph.

Peter Fox

Touching down: Peter Fox scores his second try at the Galpharm Stadium

It was a victory for the tactics of England coach Tony Smith, whose late switch of Kevin Sinfield to hooker enabled him to start with the imposing Sam Burgess at loose forward and sparked a man-of-the-match display from the Leeds Rhinos captain.

Smith's selection of four front-row forwards in his starting pack was a clear indication of England's tactics, and they reaped a fruitful harvest down the middle of the field.

It was a demonstration not only of the strength of the current England side but the dearth of talent in their outside backs.

That may be exposed by Australia next Saturday. But it was good enough to see off a New Zealand side who struggled to reach the heights of their performance against the Kangaroos.

After beginning sluggishly against both France and Australia, it was imperative England got off to a good start - and that they did was largely down to Burgess.

Peter Fox

Pure delight: England celebrate after a Peter Fox try in Huddersfield

He visibly lifted his team-mates with some crunching tackles and created the game's first try, spinning out of Frank-Paul Nuuausala's attempted tackle to send Kyle Eastmond over for a 10th-minute score on his full debut.

Sinfield's conversion made it 6-0, but the Kiwis struck back through left winger Bryson Goodwin after Fox shot out of the defensive line. It was a basic error that could have damaged the confidence of a less able player, but the Hull KR man spent the rest of the match making up for the blunder.

Goodwin missed the conversion but levelled the scores with a 30th-minute penalty, and it was still all square until Fox's decisive intervention.

His first try came courtesy of lively stand-off Sam Tomkins, whose lofted kick to the corner bounced over the head of Goodwin and into the grateful arms of Fox.

Sam Burgess

Charging through: Sam Burgess with the ball for England

Just 80 seconds remained of the first half when Fox struck again, taking Chris Bridge's pass after England caught the New Zealand defensive line out of alignment from a scrum.

Sinfield added both conversions to give his side a 12-point cushion, but it was halved within two minutes of the re-start when the Kiwis scored the best try of the match.

Substitute hooker Issac Luke shot away from dummy half - and after Nathan Fien moved the ball wide, back rower Ben Matulino took a return pass from centre Junior Sau to touch down.

Bryson Goodwin

Disappointing night: Bryson Goodwin scores New Zealand's first try but the world champions went down to defeat against England

As stalemate ensued and with a draw no good to England, Sinfield had the sense to attempt a drop goal - which was charged down by Sia Soliola.

But Sinfield had the opportunity to put two scores between the sides when the Kiwis were punished for interference at the play-the-ball in front of their ownposts - and the Leeds captain made no mistake with the easy penalty.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now