PHOTOS: Kiwis V Samoa, Rugby League World Cup 2013
Monday 28 Oct 2013 11:46 a.m.
The Kiwis stumbled on their way to a 42-24 win over Samoa but the main talking point of their World Cup opener was a stumble by their star player Sonny Bill Williams.
Williams, in his first appearance for the Kiwis in more than five years, again produced his trademark off-loads, helping to created two of New Zealand's eight touchdowns.
But he also suffered the embarrassment of bombing a try when, after a great solo run and then needing only to put the ball down, he slipped over the dead ball line.
"Embarrassed to not score, but nothing wrong with a lil humble pie," he tweeted after the game.
When asked about the clanger, Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney doubted Williams would repeat that mistake if given a scoring opportunity like that again.
"I think he might want to check his boots next time," Kearney said.
Winger Manu Vatuvei scored a hat-trick of tries and captain Simon Mannering touched down twice for the defending champions against a gallant Samoan side in Warrington.
The Kiwis led 36-4 until dramatically collapsing to concede four tries in 13 minutes.
"We definitely lost our way for a pretty long period of the game," Mannering said.
"Everything they threw at us came off and everything we tried didn't seem to work.
"They played very well but we've got to be disappointed with the way we defended."
Mannering got his team into a huddle at the end to provide a rallying call ahead of Tuesday's early-morning flight to France to prepare for their next group game in Avignon on Friday.
New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney played down his side's humiliation, preferring to give credit to the Samoans for their role in an enthralling encounter that delighted the sell-out crowd of 13,965 in Warrington.
"I wouldn't say it was embarrassing," Kearney said.
"I think it was disappointing.
"The Samoan side played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm through that period and put some tries on us."