New Zealand face nervy wait as Scotland seal last-gasp draw


Euan Aitken scored a last-gasp try as Scotland sealed a famous 18-18 draw against defending Four Nations champions New Zealand, who now face a nervous wait to see if they will progress to the final.

The Kiwis went into their final group game in Workington on Friday level on points with England but with a points difference disadvantage of 30.

A sizeable victory would have left England with the daunting prospect of needing a similarly comfortable win over world champions Australia on Sunday, but a draw will do for Wayne Bennett's side after New Zealand fell flat in the face of a stunning Scotland effort.

Gerard Beale's late double looked to have clinched the points for New Zealand, only for St George-Illawarra Dragons centre Aitken to work his way over late on, Danny Brough converting the try and earning an incredible point for Steve McCormack's men.

Both sides enjoyed spells of pressure in the early going, though Scotland had the better of the field position for long periods. 

But McCormack's side were punished for not taking advantage of those periods of superiority, Shaun Johnson sending Adam Blair through a gap before the forward found winger David Fusitu'a for his debut try for the Kiwis.

However, Scotland carved out an instant response as Lachlan Coote's clever grubber kick was pounced upon by Lewis Tierney, who did an excellent job to keep his feet in the field of play and touch down in the right-hand corner.

Scotland's intensity did not drop after the break but their failure to take advantage of attacking opportunities again proved costly, Fusitu'a crossing for his second.

New Zealand put the ball quickly through hands and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak's pass found Fusitu'a to double his tally, though Issac Luke could not add the extras as he had done in the first half.

Once again, though, Scotland refused to lie down and were rewarded for some enterprising attacking play as Coote sent Tierney away down the right, with second row Ben Hellewell arriving on the inside to cap off a wonderful move.

Brough converted to level matters and then maintained his composure to split the uprights with a penalty to edge Scotland in front.

Yet Scotland's defence could not keep the Kiwis out, Greg Eastwood powering his way through and offloading for Johnson, who sent Beale over to restore the Kiwi lead with a marvellous long pass. 

Beale then looked to have put the game to bed as he found himself on the end of a magnificent attacking move.

Johnson latched on to a break from Luke and kept the ball alive with a superb reverse pass, Te Maire Martin and Watene-Zelezniak then combining to set up Beale.

Luke failed with both of those conversions, though, and New Zealand were punished for his inaccuracy when Scotland worked the ball down the short side and Aitken crashed over, Brough stepping up and nailing the subsequent conversion to secure a share of the spoils.