New Zealand got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start with a 34-12 win against Lebanon at Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday night.
They took their time to get going, but most of the best work for the Kiwis came off the back of Joseph Manu. The fullback was everywhere and showed all the skills in a dominant performance to help his side over the line.
Coming into this game as huge underdogs, Lebanon struck the first blow. They went short off the kick-off then got a fortunate four-pointer when Josh Mansour picked up the scraps after a Mitch Moses kick.
New Zealand, who came into the tournament as the top ranked team, took their time to get going. Kenny Bromwich got their first points when he twisted his body enough to touch down without being a double movement.
That sparked the side into life. Hulking forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona charged onto a short ball and he wasn't being stopped from close range which made it 12-6 for New Zealand in a close contest.
Once they got on top New Zealand looked to be humming. It was another strong solo effort which got the third score for the side. Peta Hiku spotted a gap in the defence and burrowed underneath to extend the lead out to 18-6.
It was a sense of deja vu to start the half. Lebanon got the ball back with some spirited work then spread it to a winger to score. This time it was to Abbas Miski who flew over in the corner to reduce the deficit back to six points.
Enter Joseph Manu. The superstar centre turned fullback showed all the full range of skills to give the Kiwis a buffer. He broke through the defence before he sent Dylan Brown over then went for a solo effort.
Manu went the audacious route for his own score. The fullback chipped for himself, regathered and shrugged off some slack defence from Lebanon and walked in the score to make it 30-12.
Things went from bad to worse for Lebanon when off the short kick-off, Adam Doueihi who has been a star, was sent off for dissent. New Zealand profited immediately with Jordan Rapana scoring in the corner to add to his five goals already in the contest.