New Zealand proved too strong for a determined England side in their Four Nations clash in Dunedin, with a double from Jason Nightingale and a Manu Vatuvei try proving to be the difference for the hosts.
New Zealand wasted little time getting off the mark, with Shaun Johnson finding Nightingale with only two minutes on the clock. The winger leaped well above the defence and planted the ball on the turf near the right-hand touchline.
Ryan Hall got the visitors back into the game with his first try on seven minutes, and Josh Charnley put England in front after intercepting a pass and placing the ball inside the right corner flag to make it 8-6 to Steve McNamara's men.
Nightingale soon had the hosts back on top, however, receiving a well-timed pass from Dean Whare and racing home. Johnson's conversion was good and New Zealand were back on top going into the break.
Manu Vatuvei, who had gifted England a try in the first half, atoned for his error on 45 minutes after some deft passing with Simon Mannering let him in for a try.
England were dogged, though, and continued to fight back, Ryan Hall taking advantage of another Kiwi mistake and coming in off the wing to bring the score back to within two points.
The game remained close at 16-14 with tensions building as the clock ticked down, Joel Tomkins and Kieran Foran getting involved in a scuffle with a little more than five minutes to go with a restless home crowd making their feelings known.
New Zealand dug their heels in and managed to hang on, however, booking their place in the Wellington final with England's chances of joining them now out of their hands.