Jordan Rapana almost scrambled over in the 11th minute. After a penalty had handed them excellent position, England’s defence just managed to stop him inches short of the line.
Wayne Bennett’s men were on notice but it was New Zealand winning the territory battle, with Rapana threatening to strike in the same spot six minutes later.
The winger was held up in the in-goal area in a fantastic tackle from Makinson and Josh Hodgson, with the video referee ruling no try.
However, right before halftime England finally managed to trouble the Kiwis. The killer blow came with a floated pass from George Williams putting Makinson over in the right-hand corner.
Connor couldn’t convert from the sideline but Makinson’s vital score ensured it was tied at 6-6 heading into the interval.
That scoreline didn’t last long as the Kiwis grabbed the lead back just four minutes into the second half. Kodi Nikorima put Watene-Zelezniak through a huge hole on halfway and then the fullback found Ken Maumalo out wide for the try.
It went from bad to worse for England when replacement hooker Daryl Clark went off with a rib injury soon after and Johnson nailed a penalty to make it 14-6.
Tensions boiled over in the 53rd minute when James Fisher-Harris took out Tomkins after a kick. Scuffles broke out across the field before England took advantage of the ensuing penalty.
A brilliant no-look offload from Connor set up Makinson for his second four-pointer and cut the deficit to just four points.
England seized the momentum and kept the pressure on, with only brave defence holding Tom Burgess up over the line.
But Bennett’s side would not be stopped and it was Connor who brushed past his opposite number to sensationally tie up the game. The centre couldn’t convert his own four-pointer, so it remained locked at 14-14 with 16 minutes left.
The Kiwis were fading and then lost Rapana with a wrist injury and it was left to Makinson to capitalise on the left flank with a great match-winning try.