A double to Jamayne Isaako in his first game for the Kiwis since 2019 has helped New Zealand to a dominant 50-0 win over Samoa in their Pacific Championships clash at Eden Park on Saturday.
Named the Ken Irvine Medallist following his 24 tries during the Telstra Premiership season, Isaako's 25th and 26th tries of 2023 gave Michael Maguire's side a commanding early lead that they wouldn't look back from, running away with the contest to secure their first shut-out win on home soil in over two decades.
Playing their first game since a narrow defeat to Australia in last year's World Cup semi final, New Zealand's combination of power through the middle and quality work from their outside backs was simply irrepressible as Samoa struggled to generate sustained attacking pressure or go-forward.
Captain James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Joseph Tapine all starred early on for the Kiwis – along with a try-scoring Nelson Asofa-Solomona off the bench – with a blockbuster clash against the likes of Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Payne Haas on the cards next week when they face Australia in Melbourne.
Named at fullback ahead of Golden Boot winner Joseph Manu, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad made an impact early for the Kiwis with his clever cut-out sending Isaako over for the first points of the game after 13 minutes.
The 2023 Ken Irvine Medallist was streaking away down the sideline not long after following a mazy run from Matt Timoko, with his Canberra teammate in Tapine sending Jahrome Hughes over at the end of the set to extend the lead to 12-0.
Jahrome Hughes Try
New Zealand's third try in 11 minutes threatened to open the floodgates, with Isaako the beneficiary again of some clever work in the build-up – wrestling his way past Storm young gun Sua Fa'alogo to push the lead out to 18-0, which is how it would remain at the interval despite a number of close calls for the Kiwis.
Asofa-Solomona would make it a perfect start to the second half for New Zealand when he crashed over from close range before Isaiah Papali'i made it 28-0 with half an hour still to play after racing through to collect a Hughes grubber to score.
Denied a try in the first half when his arm grazed the sideline as he put the ball down, Ronaldo Mulitalo would eventually have his four-pointer when he crossed in the 60th minute – doubling up late on for the first brace of his international career – with late tries to Briton Nikora and Fisher-Harris took the winning margin to 50.
An obstruction denied Tommy Talau Samoa's best points-scoring opportunity of the game when Daejarn Asi was ruled to have taken an advantage behind the lead runner, with the Kiwis posting a shut-out win in an international fixture for the first time since a win over England in 2018.
Match: Kiwis v Toa Samoa
Week 2 -
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
- The Kiwis had a very late change to their team list as the game began with Fa'amanu Brown going to the bench and Kieran Foran starting at hooker.
- With the first try of the game, Jamayne Isaako registered his 25th four-pointer for the season after scoring an NRL-leading 24 tries during the season, before doubling up with his 26th try to extend the Kiwis' lead later on.
- New Zealand came up with eight first half errors compared to Samoa's two, but came up with five linebreaks from their 12 completed sets.
- Isaako had a game high 178 metres and four tackle breaks in the first half, finishing the game with a personal tally of 22 points (two tries, seven goals).
- Joseph Manu finished the game playing in jersey 20 after having his initial jersey (#4) heavily torn during a first half tackle.
- Matt Timoko had an impressive 11 tackle breaks on his international debut.
- New Zealand halves Jahrome Hughes and Dylan Brown finished with more than 250 running metres between them along with nine tackle breaks.
- The 50-point victory is New Zealand's biggest winning margin against Samoa.
Play of the Game
Having already crossed for the first try of the game, Jamayne Isaako showed a clean pair of heels to cap off a sweeping move to the right – racing clear of his opposite number in Murray Taulagi before spinning through several tackle attempts by Sua Fa'alogo to extend the Kiwis lead out to three converted tries.
Jamayne Isaako Try
What They Said
“Tonight we started well but we just couldn’t go with the opposition… the game was in the balance for about 15 or 20 minutes, which was really good, but on the back of that we didn’t get our set ends right. We just seemed to be chasing the game from there. The quality that [New Zealand] have in their team, nothing against the guys we have in our team, but they have some experienced international football players… it’s another lesson for our guys tonight.” – Toa Samoa coach Ben Gardiner.
Toa Samoa: Week 2
“They arrived in camp and had a feel about wanting to make sure they hit the ground running. The connection of the players was strong… that played a massive part in the result. The no points [pleases me most], as a coach I am probably more inclined that way than scoring points, but obviously I was impressed with some of the tries we did score, in such a short period of time with how the spine came together." – Kiwis coach Michael Maguire.
Kiwis: Week 2
The Kiwis will meet the Kangaroos at AAMI Park in Melbourne in week three of the Pacific Championships in a preview of the following week's final in Hamilton. New Zealand have not beat Australia on home soil since the 2015 ANZAC Test.
Match: Kangaroos v Kiwis
Week 3 -
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne