New Zealand won the match in emphatic fashion, but World Cup finalists Samoa have impressed rugby league fans with their passion in the jersey in a chilling pre-game face-off with their Kiwi rivals.
New Zealand are headed for the Pacific Nations rugby league championship final after firing an ominous warning to Australia with a crushing 50-0 win over Samoa.
The Samoans came into the match missing a host of top players including Penrith champions Jarome Luai (shoulder surgery) and Brian To’o (awaiting the birth of his first child) and were ultimately outclassed on the field.
But they impressed in the pre-game face-off against the Kiwis, going nose-to-nose with their rivals in scenes that impressed impartial rugby league fans.
‘Awesome from both nations, chilling stuff,’ one posted.
‘This is awesome to watch both teams so passionate,’ said another.
‘Wow now that’s passion for your country,’ another added.
Samoa captain Junior Paulo leads the pre-game challenge against New Zealand before their Pacific Championship showdown
New Zealand players, including Penrith forward James Fisher-Harris (pictured) responded with their world-famous Haka
New Zealand were far from intimidated, though.
The rampant Kiwis ran amok in an awesome display of skill and firepower to put Samoa to the sword in Auckland on Saturday.
Eden Park has long been the All Blacks’ burial ground for rival rugby sides but served as equally a graveyard for the depleted Samoans, who sadly and badly missed the likes of Joseph Suaalii, Brian To’o and Jarome Luai.
The trio helped their nation to last year’s World Cup final but, without them, the Samoans were no match for the star-studded Kiwis.
The match was all but over at halftime after New Zealand went to the break with a commanding 18-0 lead that could have been even bigger if not for two disallowed tries.
Six more second-half four-pointers completed the biggest-ever win over their Pacific Island rivals.
The one-sided victory, in Michael Maguire’s first Test in charge since agreeing to coach the NSW State of Origin side next year, set up a mouth-watering final in two weeks with the world champion Kangaroos at New Zealand’s Waikato Stadium.
But, in a treat for fans, the two finalists will also clash next Saturday at Melbourne’s AAMI Park in a spicy appetiser after Samoa’s fate was sealed with losses to both the Kangaroos and Kiwis.
With his side’s place in the final secured after last week’s 38-12 defeat of Samoa, Australia coach Mal Meninga will likely blood 2022 Dally M Medallist Nicho Hynes – and others – in next week’s “dead rubber”.
Cronulla Sharks flyer Ronaldo Mulitalo bagged a double in the huge result to set up a final against Australia
Kiwis skipper James Fisher-Harris led from the front as the Samoan side could do little to halt the New Zealand charge
While the result was disappointing, Samoan fans turned out in force to support their nation against New Zealand
Maguire may not be so tempted to tinker with his line-up after Saturday’s thoroughly stylish performance.
The result was never really in doubt from the instant Dolphins dynamo Jamayne Isaako scored and converted his own try in the 14th minute.
New Zealand’s second try was literally a ripper, with reigning world player of the year Joey Manu having his jersey shredded such was his determination to keep a dazzling movement alive.
The Sydney Roosters centre was duly rewarded when Melbourne star Jahrome Hughes finished off the play before a shirtless Manu ventured off to find a new jumper.
He quickly returned in the No.20 jersey and continued to taunt the Samoans as the Kiwis piled on nine unanswered tries in all, while also keeping their own line intact.
Isaako finished with a double and seven conversions in a 22-point personal contribution, with Cronulla winger Ronaldo Mulitalo also bagging a brace.
Mulitalo’s Sharks clubmate Briton Nikora also crossed, as did Storm giant Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Wests Tigers forward Isaiah Papali’i and Penrith powerhouse James Fisher-Harris.