New Zealand were playing for a place in the Four Nations Final as they took on a Scotland side playing for pride and a chance to leave the competition on a high.
The venue was a cold and damp Derwent Park in Workington where Scotland made just two bench changes to the side who fought so bravely against England last week, before succumbing in the second half. The Kiwis made rather more changes from the side who lost against Australia last Saturday.
According to the bookies it was all about the New Zealand winning margin, but Scotland hadn't read the script.
Kicking into the wind, Scotland had given as good as they got in the opening twenty-four minutes. The New Zealand defence had been thoroughly tested on several occasions, but had held firm.
Against the run of play the Kiwis drew first blood when James Fusitu'a found space down the right wing to go ten metres to cross in the corner and improve the angle to benefit from the first real break of the game. Shaun Johnson kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Within two minutes Scotland served the perfect response when Lewis Tierney picked up a Lachlan Coote grubber to the wing to ground a split second before going dead in goal. Danny Brough put the conversion attempt just short of the uprights.
Despite ending the half defending their own line, the Bravehearts had delivered a fantastic first forty minutes which made a mockery of the gulf between these two sides in the world rankings. They needed to maintain the intensity in the second half, and take their chances, because New Zealand would come at the strongly.
On fifty-four New Zealand finally cracked the Scottish defence with a passing move from the right to the left which saw Fusitu'a go over for his second of the night, this time by the corner flag. Johnson failed to add the conversion leaving his side 10-4 ahead.
Scotland were level on sixty-six when Ben Hellewell completed a fifty metre try when he threw a dummy and stepped through a broken New Zealand defence to go over by the uprights. Brough added the extras for a sensational 10-10 scoreline.
Two minutes later and Many Ma'u didn't clear the ruck giving referee Cummings no choice but to award a penalty thirty metres from the Kiwis sticks. Danny Brough kicked the goal to edge his side into the lead.
On seventy-two Greg Eastwood did all the work down the middle before moving the ball wide and allowing Gerard Beale to cross. Johnson again failed with a conversion into the wind and now it was New Zealand who had a slender two point lead.
The game was seemingly won on seventy-five when the Kiwis kept the ball alive with Beale crossing for his second to conclude a forty metre team try. Johnson missed again with the conversion but the margin was up to six points at 18-12.
But two minutes from time and Euan Aitken sensationally pushed his way to the line from five metres for Scotland's third try of the night and when Brough kicked the conversion the sides were tied up at 18-18 with thirty seconds left.
This was a fantastic Scotland performance on a night where they were not given a chance by the bookies or the pundits. New Zealand were well below par but the Bravehearts never let them settle into their game in awful playing conditions.
New Zealand: Watene-Zeleziak, Nightingale, Kata, Beale (2T), Fusitu'a (2T), Leuluai, Johnson (G), Bromwich, Luke, Blair, Ma'u, Harris, Eastwood. Subs: Martin, Taupau, Fisher-Harris, Tapine.
Scotland: Coote, Tierney (T), Aitken (T), Linnett, Russell, Brough (3G), Addy, Walker, Hood, Douglas, Hellewell (T), Ferguson, Kavanagh. Subs: Brierley, Mariano, Phillips, McConnachie.
Referee: Ben Cummins.