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Kiwis cherish rare series win on home soil

As the Kiwis soaked up their first series victory over Great Britain in 21 years surrounded by family and friends at Orangetheory Stadium, star playmaker Shaun Johnson said achieving the feat in New Zealand made it all the more special.

New Zealand produced a classy performance to down the Lions 23-8 in the second and final Test in Christchurch, having a week earlier edged past the Wayne Bennett-coached side 12-8 in Auckland.

It's the first time the Kiwis have won a series on home soil since they beat Australia in the final of the Four Nations in 2014 and comes after the disastrous World Cup campaign two years ago, in which they lost to second-tier Tonga and Fiji in New Zealand.

"It's more special when it's on home soil," Johnson said.

"We don't get to play many Tests here and when you do you have got to make the most of them and I thought we did that tonight.

"Last week was a tough game and we came down here and we went to another level.

"We will enjoy this moment, I don't want to get out of this changing room anytime soon. You want to soak it all up."

Johnson slices through the Lions

While his performance lacked some of the flair he has become famous for, Johnson played his role to perfection alongside skipper Benji Marshall in the halves and managed the game well with his kicking.

The Sharks playmaker also scored a brilliant individual try in the first half after forcing a repeat set with a pinpoint long kick.

Marshall was quick to praise Johnson for his response to being dropped for last week's match.

"I am really proud of Shaun," Marshall said.

"I think the best way you can judge a person is how they respond after adversity, and I thought Shaun, the way he handled getting dropped and the way he came back and performed this week, I thought it showed a lot of class.

"I think it was up there with one of Shaun's best performances for New Zealand in terms of controlling the game, building pressure and leading."

Kiwis coach Michael Maguire said the Christchurch win put on display everything they have been working towards since coming into camp in October.

"When they first arrived in camp they got together and worked really hard at what they wanted to achieve through this tour," Maguire said.

"We probably made it a bit tough for ourselves at times in the second half, but that was then a reflection of how the boys have come together throughout this tournament.

"To see them defend the way they did at the back end, that was a reflection of what we spoke about right from day one."

Maguire also reserved praise for winger Jamayne Isaako who scored 11 of the Kiwis' points via four penalties, a conversion and a field goal.

The Brisbane flyer was lining up in a Test in his hometown of Christchurch for the first time, with his terminally ill father Taai watching on from the stands. 

"With the family situation it's really nice he was able to perform the way he did," Maguire said.

"[Jamayne] has been enormous over the last couple of weeks.

"To watch him grow from 12 months ago to where he is now, he's going to be one hell of a player if he keeps progressing the way he's going."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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