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New Zealand begin defence with victory

ESPN staff
October 27, 2013 « 49ers no match for Jaguars at Wembley | Chartbeat test »

New Zealand made a winning start to the defence of their World Cup crown in an enthralling 42-24 win over Samoa in Warrington.

The Kiwis were scoring a point a minute in the opening quarter and stretched the lead to 36-4 before conceding four tries in 13 minutes.

Manu Vatuvei was the star of the show for the holders with a hat-trick, but coach Stephen Kearney will be alarmed at his side's defensive lapses in front of a sell-out crowd at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

In Sunday's other game, France defied a partisan Hull crowd to win their Group B opener with Papua New Guinea 9-8 at Craven Park, but they were not without their fair share of good fortune.

PNG full-back David Mead missed two conversions and a 79th-minute penalty which meant that William Barthau's 64th-minute drop goal proved to be the match-winner for the French.

With their links to Hull KR due to former players Makali Aizue and, in particular, Stanley Gene, the Kumuls were afforded hero status from the crowd of 7,481 who for a long time had plenty to cheer about.

New Zealand tries: Hoffman, Mannering 2, Tuivasa-Sheck, Vatuvei 3, Luke; Goals: Johnson 5
Samoa tries: Roberts, Leilua, Manumeasili, Matagi, A, Winterstein; Goals: Milford 2

France tries: Bosc; Goals: Bosc 2; Drop goal: Bartau
Papua New Guinea tries: McDonald, Abavu

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