By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 28/10/13
Samoa were brave but New Zealand were better as the World Cup holders opened their campaign with a 42-24 win in Warrington.
It was all New Zealand in the first half as the men in black raced away to a 22-0 lead after just 21 minutes.
The Kiwis looked ready to post a cricket score in the opening half as they shredded the Samoan defence at will.
Simon Mannering scored two tries, Josh Hoffman got one and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck try also crossed as New Zealand were in complete command.
Samoa got a consolation try, giving them a faint glimmer of hope, in the dieing stages of the first half thanks to Ben Roberts to make the scores 22-4.
When the Kiwis crossed yet again at the start of the second half, this time the first of what would be Manu Vatuvei’s three tries, the Samoans looked dead and buried. New Zealand were killing them off with strong forward running and quick ball movement, with Shaun Johnson and Keiran Foran in particular combining to deadly effect.
But the spirited Samoans didn’t throw in the towel, despite conceding another two quick tries and the score moving to 36-4. With the loud Warrington crowd behind them, the Samoans scored their second try and then went on a rampaging run. They notched 18 points in less than 20 minutes to really turn the game on its head and put a scare into New Zealand.
Momentum swung the Samoan’s way, the fans were cheering loudly for them and the Kiwis could not doing anything right for a long period, continually giving away cheap penalties and knocking the ball on.
Samoa got the score back to a respectable 36-24, and looked a chance for an upset, before Vatuvei crossed for his third try on 72 minutes and the Samoan resistance was finally well and truly crushed.
It was New Zealand’s night at the Halliwell Jones Stadium but Samoa threatened to spoil the party in memorable fashion.
It was a mixed night for Sonny Bill Williams, who set up a try early on with a clever pass, but also had egg on his face in the second half after botching a try of his own when he slipped into touch as he was about to put the ball down. It will be one World Cup moment the Roosters star will certainly want to forget and fast.
It was also a forgettable night for the video referee, who accidently hit the No Try button at one point when he meant to award a try. The mistake was fixed but it left the Warrington crowd with a laugh in what was an entertaining night of World Cup action in the north of England.
Crowd: 13,965 (Sell-out)
New Zealand 42, Vatuvei (3), Mannering (2), Luke, Hoffman, Tuivasa-Sheck, Goals: Johnson (5).
Samoa 24, Tries: Roberts, Winterstein, Matagi, Leilua, Manumalealii, Goals: Milford (2).