Danny Brough, right, and Kane Linnett celebrate Scotland’s 18-18 draw with New Zealand in the Four Nations match at Workington. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Scotland made history as they became the first of the minnows to claim a Four Nations point in a dramatic draw against New Zealand at a wet and windy Derwent Park.
Danny Brough kicked the all important goal to convert Euan Aitken’s first try for Scotland two minutes from the end to claim a share of the spoils with the Four Nations holders.
Glorious in defeat by England in Coventry last Saturday, a draw was the least Scotland deserved after outplaying the Kiwis for long periods as they maintained their unbeaten record at Workington, where they have secured two wins and two draws from four matches at their second home.
The outcome means England will go through to the final at Anfield on Sunday week if they beat Australia at the London Stadium on Sunday while the Kiwis will go through with a Kangaroos victory.
It was a performance of grit and determination. Brough needed a painkilling injection before kick-off to combat a knee injury and he lost his half-back partner Danny Addy for a concussion assessment after 11 minutes.
Scotland were helped by an early run of four penalties which enabled them to play the first quarter of the match in their opponents’ half and it was against the run of play when New Zealand took the lead on 23 minutes, right winger David Fusitu’a taking an offload from the second-rower Tohu Harris to score a try on his debut.
Issac Luke’s conversion made it 6-0 but Scotland struck back three minutes later when the Wigan winger Lewis Tierney produced a finish which his father Jason Robinson would have been proud to score.
The full-back Lachlan Coote’s grubber kick looked to be too strong but Tierney never gave up the chase and skirted the touchline as he gathered to touch down for his first try for his country.
Brough was unable to add the goal but, trailing 6-4 at the break and with the wind and rain at their backs in the second half, the prospects looked good for Scotland and England.
Brough quickly made use of the elements with a 40-20 inside the first minute of the second half and Addy, back in action from his concussion assessment, was thrown back from the line as Scotland threatened to take the lead.
The turning point appeared to come on 50 minutes when Brough’s attacking kick went straight into the hands of Fusitu’a, who turned defence into attack with a dart upfield. Within the next set, the big winger got on the end of a sublime pass from Shaun Johnson to cross for his second try that extended his side’s lead to 10-4.
New Zealand suffered a blow when the stand-off Thomas Leuluai went off after 57 minutes with a facial injury and their fortunes went from bad to worse in the space of four minutes.
Coote released Tierney down the right flank and the second-rower Ben Hellewell, who was on his inside, took the final pass to dummy his way over for a glorious try.
Brough’s first conversion tied the scores and Scotland were in dreamland three minutes when later he put his side in front with a 35-metre penalty.
The dream looked to have been dashed inside three minutes, as the Kiwis quickly regrouped and the centre Gerard Beale went over for two tries in three minutes, largely through the sublime handling skills of Johnson.
Luke was unable to master the swirling wind to leave only a six-point margin and that was enough for never-say-die Scotland who struck back with arguably the best try of the match and Brough did the rest.