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Pre-tournament favourites NZ Maori have overcome a brave Niue side, to record a 54-4 victory to kick start their tournament ahead of their key match up against the Samoans.
They match was played directly after the Tonga v Fiji match, and the feeling was the score line will be 100+ come the final whistle. But no one in the crowd could have predicted what happen next, as Niue laid down the challenge early on to the much fancied NZ Maori side.
As the Maoris started their traditional haka, the Niue players stepped in half way through the haka and produced their own haka, which sent the whole 900 fans into a massive roar.
With the tone set even before kick off by Niue, they showed they can match it with the Maori on the field, holding them to 6-0 after the first 30 minutes. After that, the much fitter and well drilled Maori side coached by Kiwi Legend Tawera Nikau finally broke through the Niue defence.
The Maori took advantage of the tiring Niue players to race in four tries in the final 10 minutes to take a 28-0 lead at the break.
Niue had several chances to score tries, but couldn?t come up with points on any occasion down on the Maori line. Brilliant NZ Maori fullback Nathan Hohaia, saved two certain tries, before going off mid way through the second half with an ankle injury.
What ever could go wrong went wrong for Niue, as intercept tries and poor general kicking hurt them as they ran out of steam.
Their only try came from an intercept, as their stand off was cut down only a metre out from the try line before Pen? busted over from dummy half to score.
NZ Maori wing Teteira Davis picked up three tries and seven goals to have a personal tally of 28 points, while halfback Aoterangi Herangi also picked up a hat trick of tries.
Niue will now take on the very unpredictable Samoan side tomorrow night, while the Maori will take on the Samoans on Thursday night with winner going through to the Grand Final on Saturday.
New Zealand Maori 54
B. Herekotuku, T. Davis (3), A. Herangi (3), K. Savage, S. Hoskin, M. Whakatihi T. Davis (7) goals
A. Pen? Try
Courtesy of: http://www.rugbyleaguenz.com