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Half Century Up - Kiwis 50, Toa Samoa 6

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Half Century Up - Kiwis 50, Toa Samoa 6

The Kiwis built up for their 2010 Four Nations campaign by piling on 10 tries to swamp Toa Samoa 50-6 in the first-ever Test between the two countries at Mount Smart Stadium tonight.

While Stephen Kearney's men moved comfortably clear of the Samoans, England, their opponents in the opening round of the Four Nations next Saturday night, were held to an 18-18 draw by the New Zealand Maori. Igniting the Kiwis' scoring spree in his first Test in three years, and only the second of his career, was Sydney Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall, who snared the first two tries of the match to help his side to a 16-0 halftime lead.

In the second half left winger Manu Vatuvei, who hadn't played for the Kiwis since the 2009 Anzac Test, grabbed a brace of his own to lift his career tally to 13 tries in 18 Tests and 22 in 20 matches this year.

When he went off with cramp late in the game, the Kiwis elected to play out the final few minutes of the match with only 12 men even though they still had a 12th interchange left. Apart from Vatuvei and Kenny-Dowall there were six other try-scorers as the Kiwis scored 34 points in the second half.

A Benji Marshall long ball to right winger Jason Nightingale opened the way for the opening try, the St George Illawarra NRL premiership winner breaking down the touchline before finding Kenny-Dowall on his inside and, soon after, a Marshall grubber kick provided Kenny-Dowall with his second.

A compelling Vatuvei charge initiated a try wide out for Nightingale and Nathan Fien sent Marshall across for the fourth try of the first half, none of which were converted. Fien combined with his old club-mate Simon Mannering to set the scene for the second half, Mannering punching through off a Fien pass and then feeding Fien inside for a 50th minute try, Marshall finally successful with the conversion.

From there on it became something of a procession, Marshall heavily involved as Kenny-Dowall threatened to complete a hat-trick before off loading for halfback Thomas Leuluai to score.

Vatuvei's first try came courtesy of some slick passing before he ploughed across in familiar fashion close to the corner flag. With Marshall's conversion from wide out, the score had ballooned to 32-0.

Fullback Lance Hohaia was the next to profit as Mannering, now switched to the centres, popped up a lovely off load for his club-mate to score and he then provided a deft pass to free Vatuvei down the touchline from about 30 metres out. Vatuvei, as so often happens, had little room to work with but he was never going to be denied as he thundered across.

Issac Luke's conversion was brilliant and a Fien ball gave a rampaging Frank Pritchard the Kiwis' last try of the night. With so many Samoans in a boisterous crowd, it was some reward, if only a consolation, that their side should finish the scoring with a try to halfback Pita Godinet. Now the Kiwis move to Wellington to prepare for England at Westpac Stadium next Saturday night. Match details:

At Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland Kiwis 50 (Shaun Kenny-Dowall 2, Manu Vatuvei 2, Jason Nightingale, Benji Marshall, Nathan Fien, Thomas Leuluai, Lance Hohaia, Frank Pritchard tries; Issac Luke 3 conversions; Benji Marshall 2 conversions). Toa Samoa 6 (Pita Godinet try; Joseph Paulo conversion). Halftime: 16-0 Kiwis. Referee: Shane Rehm. Crowd: 11,512.

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