The Kiwis and Toa Samoa kicked off their rugby league world cup campaign on Saturday night in Auckland with the home team taking the win 38-8.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona’s debut try
One of the most spectacular tries of the match was from Melbourne Storm debutant Nelson Asofa-Solomona. The giant front-rower crossed the line in the 72nd minute and seemed to defy the laws of gravity as he escaped a tackle to the ground all while keeping the ball in the air and lunging a significant distance to score the try. In addition to the amazing try on debut, Asofa-Solomona had an impressive game all round as he was also averaging 10 metres on his 18 carries and was a huge addition towards the Kiwis impact on the field.
Mistakes after mistakes
The Kiwis had a positive start to the world cup and came out on top with a significant win – but that does not take away from the fact there were far too many mistakes which could have cost them the game. The team looked to embrace the new “Kiwi style” of play and although it did pay off, it also caused them to throw away multiple scoring opportunities as they tried to throw the ball at every opportunity – but often with poor accuracy. The first half saw the team make eight errors and six penalties and it continued throughout the second.
Samoa’s disappointing second half performance
As expected, the Samoan squad came out hard and fast and looked as though they’d put up a strong fight till the very end. Although this wasn’t the case as the lack of conditioning was clear for Samoa in the second half and they seemed to fall away and lack that fiery determination they displayed in the beginning. The Kiwis played a much faster game and Samoa just could not keep up as their defence became weak allowing the Kiwis to score 5 tries in the second half while they only managed to scored one as the final whistle blew.
Samoa head coach furious over “schoolboy errors”
Head coach Matt Parish labelled his team’s performance full of “schoolboy errors” and says it wasn’t acceptable from a squad full of NRL-level players. Toa Samoa shared an even percentage of ball possession with the Kiwis throughout the match but only managed to complete a pitiful 57% of their sets , missed 36 tackles and a total of 16 errors.
“The Kiwis played very well but you can’t toss that garbage up and expect to compete, particularly against a team that good.” – Samoa coach Matt parish
New Zealand 38
Tries: Rapana (4th min), Johnson (20th min), Takairangi (46th min), Nikorima (52nd min), Liu (55th min), Tuivasa-Sheck (69th min), Asofa-Solomona (72nd min)
Goals: Johnson 5 (21st, 53rd, 56th, 70th, 73rd mins)
Toa Samoa 8
Tries: Maumalo (36th min), Paulo (80th min)