England’s hopes of snatching an unlikely series-levelling victory over New Zealand receded drastically after failing to prise apart Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor on the final morning.

Joe Denly dropped a dolly to reprieve Williamson on 62 after the New Zealand captain had earlier been given a let-off by Ollie Pope on 39 as the Black Caps went to lunch on 211 for two – a lead of 110.

With rain forecast on Tuesday afternoon, indeed it was heavily overcast and blustery at the interval, an unbroken 183-run stand between Williamson (96 not out) and Taylor (84no) seems to have steered New Zealand into safe waters.

While it may not have mattered in the end, England did have their chances, first of all when Ben Stokes brushed Williamson’s glove but Pope snatched at the leg-side chance presented by New Zealand’s talisman.

He soon passed his half-century with a sumptuous cover drive off Sam Curran while Ross Taylor’s back-to-back fours through the offside off Stokes took him to a rather more unobtrusive fifty.

Williamson was given another life on 62 when Joe Denly dropped the simplest of chances at midwicket.

England’s Jofra Archer
England’s Jofra Archer reacts after teammate Joe Denly dropped a catch (Mark Baker/AP)

Archer’s action change, in which he brought down his front arm quickly and delivered a knuckle ball, perhaps distracted Williamson, who prodded limply into the leg-side.

Archer was already wheeling away in celebration, only to turn around and see the ball on the floor.

England spurned a review when Williamson was clattered in the helmet by Ben Stokes, with technology showing the ball had not taken a deflection off the bat on the way through.

Taylor moved past 7,000 Test runs while two pulled fours in the space of three balls from the final over before the break saw Williamson close to within four of his ton.