Toa Captain disappointed, says lots of work to be done
Toa Samoa captain Frank Pritchard was not a happy man.
Feeling deflated from a 38-8 loss to the Kiwis, Pritchard said there is a lot of work for Toa Samoa to do ahead of their next World Cup game against Tonga in Hamilton.
Toa Samoa came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders.
They were clearly the better team in the second half when they were making their tackles and completing their sets.
Although the Kiwis got off to an early lead with two tries from Jordan Rapana and Shaun Johnson, Toa Samoa responded with a Ken Maumalo try to keep the score, 10-4 at the break.
But a poor second half cost Toa Samoa everything. Their completion rate dropped, tackles were missed and the execution of what they did well during the first half went out the door.
Captain Pritchard said this was disappointing.
“It’s not the way we want to start the tournament and it’s disappointing,” he said. “In a game like this, you need to hold on to the ball and make our tackles. So we’ve got lots to work on.”
But it’s not just Toa Samoa who have work to do.
While the final scoreline was flattering for coach David Kidwell's side, the journey to it was at times anything but, as they coughed 17 errors and struggled to execute their offload-heavy plan.
Samoa will lament a second half where they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with errors coming out of yardage, while they appeared to struggle with the pace of the game when the Kiwis found second gear after the break.
The start couldn't have gone any better for New Zealand, who were over via Jordan Rapana after just four minutes, before a clever interchange of passing between Simon Mannering and Thomas Leuluai saw Shaun Johnson score and convert for a 10-0 lead.
Samoa were creating turnovers off their swarming defence and had a couple of chances to register first-half points before Ken Maumalo went over with four minutes left, reducing the deficit to six.
Both Brad Takairangi and Isaac Liu grabbed tries on Test debut early in the second half, along with Kodi Nikorima's screaming run onto a Johnson grubber, to give the local side a 16-point advantage.
A long stoppage in play to take Gerard Beale from the field, after he collapsed away from contact with what appeared to be a serious lower leg injury, did nothing to halt New Zealand's momentum, and a short time later Nikorima turned provider to send Roger Tuivasa-Sheck through for a clean run to the line.
A spectacular effort from Nelson Asofa-Solomona saw him stretch out and become the third Kiwi to score on Test debut with nine minutes to go, before Samoa five-eighth Joseph Paulo dotted down after the siren to offer a slight positive for his side and finish the scoring at 38-8.
New Zealand 38 (Jordan Rapana, Shaun Johnson, Brad Takairangi, Kodi Nikorima, Isaac Liu, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Nelson Asofa-Solomona tries; Shaun Johnson 5 goals) def. Samoa 8 (Ken Maumalo, Joseph Paulo tries) at Mount Smart Stadium. HT: 10-4. Crowd: 17,857.