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The Kiwis piled on the points in the second half, to open their Rugby League World Cup, with a 38-8 victory over Samoa in their opening game of Group B.
It was an eighty minutes, that featured everything great about rugby league - passion, some brilliant tries, solid defense, a scrum win against the feed and even a series of streaks in front of a raucous crowd tonight at Mt Smart stadium.
When it came down to the football though, New Zealand confirmed their status as the main challenger to Australia's cup defense, with five tries in the second half to run away with the contest against a tired Samoa team. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who cut a frustrated figure during the NRL season, put in a solid shift, which included a four-pointer in a display to remind everyone of his talent.
Outside of Sheck, Shaun Johnson pulled the strings well. He added two try-assists with five conversions to round off a display that will please David Kidwell. The Kiwis looked a class above from the opening whistle, regularly making over halfway through the wrecking ball duo of Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
They turned their dominance into points thrice in the first half, as Jordan Rapana continued his run of try-scoring with a quick sprint for the opener then Johnson exposed some lax defense from Samoa, to take a Simon Mannering pass for 10-nil.
Samoa completed at 80% in the first half, but their attack was too frantic at times which resulted in errors that tired out their pack. On the occasion that it stuck to hand, Ken Maumalo, who calls Mt Smart home during the NRL season, scooped one up for 10-4.
In the second half, the Warriors winger went from hero to zero, as he spilled a ball right to the feet of Brad Takairangi, who dived over in his debut. From there, it was one-way traffic for the Kiwis, as they tore through a tired Samoan defensive line time-and-time again.
Nikorima latched onto a deft Johnson grubber in the 52nd, before Issac Liu, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and another debutant, Nelson Asofa-Solomona found the line for the 38-8 scoreline. Joseph Paulo got a late consolation for Samoa for some joy right on the full-time whistle.
New Zealand 38 - Samoa 8
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Halftime Score: New Zealand 10 Samoa 4
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Nelson Asofa-Solomona
2 points - Roger Tuivasa-sheck
1 points - Shaun Johnson
NEW ZEALAND (38)
Tries: Jordan Rapana, Shaun Johnson, Brad Takairangi, Kodi Nikorima, Isaac Liu, Roger Tuivasa-sheck, Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Conversions: Shaun Johnson (5/7)
Tries: Ken Maumalo, Joseph Paulo
Conversions: Peter Mata'utia (0/2)