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Mt Smart hosts Internationals with a draw and a blow-out
New Zealand Maori (18) drew with England (18)
Kick off: 3:30pm AEDT
England have survived a spirited second half surge from New Zealand Maori to hold on to an 18-all draw in a heartstopping fixture at Mount Smart Stadium.
The visitors dominated proceedings in the first half, gaining an 18-nil ascendency at halftime. Australian based players Gareth Ellis and fullback Gareth Widdop two of the standouts, while halfback Sam Tomkins proved highly elusive.
To put it bluntly, England fell to pieces in the second stanza and the Maori clicked into gear. Three tries of their own reduced the deficit to 18-16, before a penalty goal to Kevin Locke in the last 10 minutes levelled things up.
Rangi Chase had the chance to snatch a massive upset but his final minute field goal attempt was met with a resolute English charge down. The match serves as a tantalising appetiser to the Four Nations later this month but poses more questions about the consistency of the English.
In injury news, veteran English prop Adrian Morley was benched early with an arm complaint. However, it appears the move was only precautionary.
England - 18
Tries: Ryan Atkins, Sam Tomkins, Sean O'Loughlin
Goals: Gareth Widdop 3/3
New Zealand Maori - 18
Tries: Bodene Thompson, Aaron Heremaia, Rangi Chase
Goals: Kevin Locke 3/4
Maori: Kevin Locke; Sandor Earl, Timana Tahu, Clinton Toopi (c), Kaine Manihera; A J Taumata, Rangi Chase; James Tamou, Aaron Heremaia, Russell Packer; Weller Hauraki, Justin Horo; Bodene Thompson. Interchange: Jeremy Smith, Kevin Proctor, Sam McKendry, Lewis Brown.
England: Gareth Widdop; Tom Briscoe, Michael Shenton, Ryan Atkins, Ryan Hall; Kevin Brown, Sam Tomkins; Adrian Morley (c), James Roby, Darrell Griffin; Gareth Ellis, Sam Burgess; Sean O'Loughlin. Interchange: Luke Robinson, Eorl Crabtree, Joel Tomkins, Ben Westwood, Ben Harrison, Leroy Cudjoe.
New Zealand (50) defeated Toa Samoa (6)
Kick off: 5:30pm AEDT
New Zealand has fired an ominous warning to its fellow Four Nations combatants with a 50-6 demolition of Samoa in their first ever Test match at Mount Smart Stadium.
The Kiwis held a 16-0 advantage at the break and raced in six tries in the second half. Samoa got the very last score, thanks to a break from David Solomona - the big forward then grubbered ahead for Vulcans' halfback Pita Godinet to regather.
New Zealand did make their fair share of errors but the result does bode well for their Four Nations chances - historically the Kiwis play at their best when given time to develop in longer competitions. Notably, their forward aggression and speed from dummy half look set to cause the most problems for Australia, England and Papua New Guinea later this month.
New Zealand - 50
Tries: Shaun Kenny-Dowall 2, Manu Vatuvei 2, Jason Nightingale, Benji Marshall, Nathan Fien, Thomas Leuluai, Lance Hohaia, Frank Pritchard
Goals: Issac Luke 3/5, Benji Marshall 2/5
Samoa - 6
Tries: Pita Godinet
Goals: Joseph Paulo 1/1
New Zealand: 1 Lance Hohaia (Warriors) 2 Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra) 3 Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Sydney Roosters) 4 Junior Sa'u (Newcastle) 5 Manu Vatuvei (Vodafone Warriors) 6 Benji Marshall (c) (Wests Tigers) 7 Thomas Leuluai(Wigan) 8 Greg Eastwood (Leeds) 9 Issac Luke (South Sydney) 10 Adam Blair (Melbourne) 11 Frank Pritchard (Penrith) 12 Bronson Harrison (Canberra) 13 Jeremy Smith (St George Illawarra)
Interchange (from): 14 Nathan Fien (St George Illawarra) 15 Ben Matulino (Warriors) 16 Frank Paul Nuuausala (Sydney Roosters) 17 Simon Mannering (Warriors) 18 Sika Manu (Melbourne) 19 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters)
Toa Samoa: 1. Quentin Togaga'e - Souths Logan Magpies 2. Francis Meli - St Helens, UK 3. Frank Winterstein - Crusaders, UK 4. George Carmont - Wigan Warriors 5. Willie Isa - Melbourne Storm 6. Joseph Paulo- Penrith Panthers 7. Pita Godinet - Auckland Vulcans 8. Tony Puletua (c) - St Helens, UK 9. Masada Iosefa - Penrith Panthers 10. Mark Taufua - Newcastle Knights 11. Harrison Hansen - Wigan Warriors, UK 12. David Solomona - Warrington Wolves, UK 13. David Faiumu - Huddersfield Giants, UK
Interchange (from): 14. Josh McGuire - Brisbane Broncos 15. Ali Lauitiiti - Leeds Rhinos, UK 16. Terrence Seuseu - Manly Sea-Eagles 17. Constantine Mika - Newcastle Knights 18. Tanielu Pasene - Lions, Samoa
LeagueUnlimited provided live coverage on Twitter for the double header. Live updates commenced at 3:30pm AEDT (5:30pm NZDT). Look back over the action as it happened at twitter.com/LeagueUnlimited
The LeagueUnlimited.com team will be back to cover the Four Nations in full from next weekend.