Magic what he does
Kiwis off to big start against brave Samoa
The Kiwis have started their World Cup campaign in the fashion they needed to with an emphatic 38-4 win over Samoa at Mt Smart Stadium last night.
At times the Kiwis did lack a bit of polish and some of their errors were reminiscent of another team that often plays at this venue.
However, apart from a bad patch towards the end of the first half, they were too good for a Samoan side full of NRL players and this result goes a long way towards restoring some pride in their jersey.
The loss of Kenny Bromwich with a groin injury the day before the game resulted in Adam Blair going to lock, Simon Mannering moving to the second row and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves starting prop. So a few changes, but didn’t really matter.
There was a highly charged atmosphere before kick off with an emotional siva tau, followed by a haka in front of 17,857 spectators.
Just three minutes into the game Jordan Rapana made a break down the right edge, quickly exchanged at it passes with Shaun Johnson and then finished off the attack with a try. Samoa were given a penalty 10m from the Kiwis’ line in the 10th minute, they went for a tap but lost possession after a few tackles.
They kept the pressure on the Kiwis close to their own line, but when the ball went wide to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak he had the space to run 95m for a try. However, he knocked the ball on and put the Kiwis under pressure again.
The Kiwis forwards were not only able to outmuscle their opponents up the middle, they also had the panache to pull out offloads and that’s exactly how their second try came, with Mannering swerving through Samoan defenders and when finally caught, he flicked the ball to Thomas Leuluai, who then quickly fed it to Johnson to score.
Bunty Afoa and Leeson Ah Mau were impressive for Samoa up the middle, but they didn’t look like a cohesive enough team to capitalise on their strong runs.
But five minutes before the break Samoa wing Ken Maumalo found himself with an overlap on the left edge. One quick sidestep to throw off Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and he was in for a try.
The score at the break was 10-4 in favour of New Zealand and really the Kiwis should have been further ahead than that.
They did extend their lead five minutes into the second half when Maumalo lost the ball in goal from a Johnson grubber and Brad Takairangi was the first to seize on it.
Seven minutes later there was some real class from the Kiwis as Johnson put through a perfectly weighted grubber that Kodi Nikorima dived on in goal for the Kiwis’ fourth try.
Soon after, Isaac Liu bulldozed his way over for a try on debut.
Up 26-4 and in a position to coast home, Gerard Beale collapsed without being touched and and had to leave the field on a medicab with a leg injury and it could be that his World Cup is over.
Tuivasa-Sheck and Nelson AsofaSolomona picked up a late tries for the Kiwis and the scoreline at last reflected New Zealand’s domination. Next up for the Kiwis is Scotland in Christchurch on Saturday.