Kiwis, Kangaroos one step closer to Anfield
The Four Nations may only be two games old but the path to the tournament final is already set in stone for Wayne Bennett's Wall of White.
England's 17-16 loss to New Zealand on Sunday morning (AEST) leaves them with no other alternative but to beat Scotland and Australia in their remaining round-robin games.
The Kiwis' one-point win was always going to be the most telling fixture in terms of who heads to Anfield for the Four Nations final on November 20, considering the Kangaroos' status as tournament favourites.
Shaun Johnson's 65th-minute field goal proved the difference in the end, though England's self-destruction when the game was on the line helped the Kiwis' cause.
England skipper Sam Burgess – who was guilty of several errors – admitted his team blew a golden opportunity but emphasised how far the team had come over the past fortnight.
"We understand the situation we are in now," Burgess said.
"We have been together for two weeks and we have improved a hell of a lot in that time.
"We'll hit the ground running to keep improving as a team.
"Taking nothing away from the Kiwis, we certainly gifted them a few things there and we made the game hard for ourselves."
Round 1 victors Australia and New Zealand will headline next weekend's double header at Coventry's Ricoh Arena.
The winner will ensure they'll end the tournament in Liverpool one way or the other.
While Kiwis coach David Kidwell will likely stick solid with his 17 – pending the health of concussed five-eighth Thomas Leuluai – Australia will make a host of team changes.
The Kangaroos' 54-12 flogging of Scotland saw Australia coach Mal Meninga blood five international debutants including Justin O'Neill and James Maloney.
Well-rested quintet Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Greg Inglis, Boyd Cordner and Matt Gillett are all expected to return to the side to play the Kiwis.
After earning man-of-the-match honours against Scotland, Matt Moylan is one who could potentially force his way into Meninga's first choice 17 as a bench utility.
Concussions suffered by Kangaroos centre Josh Dugan and Scotland front-rower Luke Douglas may also influence the make-up of their respective sides next weekend.
Four Nations ladder
2. New Zealand