They got the win they were after but it was not all smooth sailing for the New Zealand Kiwis side, as the Samoans gave them a run for the money and pushed hard, before succumbing 42-24 to the reigning World Champions.
In front of just under 14,000 passionate fans, it was New Zealand who burst out of the gates early, as they scored 22 points in as many minutes – leaving the Samoans rattled.
In true rugby league fashion, however, the Samoans bounced back and had a run of their own, scoring four tries in 15 minutes to give themselves a chance in the contest.
For Samoan coach Matt Parish, he thought that his side lost their composure and class in the first half and it cost them.
â€œAt half-time, we needed to keep our composure. At times, we lost our way a little bit,” said Parish.
What did please him though, was the mass support his side had in the crowd, admitting he was touched when the crowd started singing and shouting out ‘Samoa’.
â€œWhen they brought the crowd into it, they rose to the occasion,” said Parish.
â€œTo hear that crowd sing Samoa, I was touched by it.”
It was a back and forth game overall and one that New Zealand will be pleased to win but one that they will want to forget and instead improve on, if they are to retain their title.
Samoan fans can be proud of their teams’ effort, after they refused to lie down and fought back well, as several NRL stars in their side played starring roles.
For Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney, he knows there were some good parts and plays to his side’s structure, as he praised the efforts of Samoa during their run.
“There were some good parts where we stuck to our structures and processes and we did well,” said Kearney.
“But Samoa played really well for a 20-25-minute period in the second-half… and consequently put some tries on us.”
New Zealand 42 (Vatuvei 3, Mannering 2, Hoffman, Luke & Tuivasa-Sheck; Goals: Johnson 5) def. Samoa 24 (Leilua, Manumalealii, Matagi, Roberts & Winterstein; Goals: Milford 2).