The All Blacks were made to work hard for a 25-16 victory over Samoa in the first ever Test between the two sides in Apia earlier today. A late comeback gave the hosts a chance, but Dan Carter kept the world champions ahead with the boot.
Carter scored 20 points from the tee as New Zealand scored their only try through George Moala, while Samoa’s try came from powerful former Sevens star, Alafoti Fa’osiliva.
The first half was tight, and at times scrappy, but Carter kept kicking the opportunities afforded to him. They took a 12-3 halftime lead, before a crosskick allowed debutant Moala to score, and later stretch the lead to 19-3 in the second half.
Samoan flyhalf Tusi Pisi kicked nine points as their try brought the score to within reach at 22-16, before a late Carter penalty made the victory fairly comfortable in the end. It was their narrowest ever victory over Samoa though, in six matches.
They had previously beaten them by over 50 points on four occasions, including a mammoth 101-14 win in their most recent match in New Plymouth in 2008.
Alesana Tuilagi said post match that he hopes the All Blacks will return to Samoa again.
“Thank you, Richie McCaw the Captain, and the number one team in the world. Hopefully you’ll come back, and we’ll try again, and again and again,” the now 34-year-old said.
McCaw wished them well at the Rugby World Cup, where they are in Pool B with South Africa, Scotland, Japan and the USA.
“With form like that you will get better and I know you will be a force to be reckoned with in what’s ahead. You have a pretty special team and I’m sure you will do well.”
A capacity crowd of 8,104 was on hand to witness the match in Apia, but the sense of occasion around the country – who have a population of less than 200 000 – was palpable. Hopefully a meeting between the two sides, in Samoa, will become a regular fixture.
Updated: Match build up and wrap-up below, with the extended match highlights on page two
credit: NZAUTV Rugby Union