England produced a stirring comeback to defeat New Zealand 36-18 in Denver on Saturday.

Wayne Bennett's men suffered an agonising defeat to Australia in last year's Rugby League World Cup final and eventually ran out comfortable winners over a New Zealand side that endured a contrasting experience at the same tournament, failing to go beyond the quarter-finals.

But it looked as if the long trip to Colorado would be a chastening experience when New Zealand burst into a 12-0 lead.

However, from there England dominated matters, scoring 32 unanswered points to put the game beyond doubt, Elliott Whitehead going over for a double while debutants Jake Connor and Tommy Makinson marked their bows with tries.

Centre Esan Marsters opened the scoring with a debut try for the Kiwis after a great break from Kodi Nikorima, before Dallin Watene-Zelezniak doubled New Zealand's advantage.

But a great finish out wide from Ryan Hall got England on the board, and Whitehead further narrowed the gap, his try cutting the deficit to 12-10 at half-time.

Gareth Widdop levelled from the tee and soon after found Makinson to send over Whitehead for his second.

A kick from the halfway line made it 20-12 to England, with Connor then bursting through to cross before Makinson profited from a Whitehead interception.

Watene-Zelezniak did stop the rot with his second try, but John Bateman had the final say from dummy half.