WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Winger Shaun Stevenson scored two tries for the New Zealand Maori in a 35-10 victory over Samoa in a rain-swept rugby international on Saturday.
Stevenson touched down twice in the first half and fellow winger Sean Wainui also scored as the Maori took charge of the match, leading 21-7 at halftime.
Captain Ash Dixon and backrower Whetukamokamo Douglas scored in the second half as the Maori dominated territory and possession in challenging conditions.
Samoa was playing its first match since the 2019 World Cup and competed well despite a truncated preparation.
“It was a tough game to be honest. We didn’t have our way at all,” Dixon said. “We had to work pretty hard but I’m really stoked with the result.
“We wanted to take them on up front because of the conditions," he continued. "I would have loved to have a dry ball and see both teams throw it around a bit but hopefully next week we can do that and see some good footy.”
The teams meet again next weekend before Samoa faces Tonga in a World Cup qualifying match.
The Maori were dominant in scrums throughout the match and controlled possession with judicious kicking, especially in the first half which was played in lashing rain. They kept the ball in hand more in the second half and also spent long periods in Samoa territory.
Stevenson scored the first try of the match after nine minutes, running onto a wide kick from Otere Black to put him outside the Samoa defense.
Samoa had a try disallowed for obstruction before leveling with a try to winger Neria Fomai, who chipped ahead and recovered his own kick.
Wainui scored in the 31st minute, again from a lineout, after Dixon and Alex Nankivell allowed him to run onto a short pass near the line. Stevenson’s second try came in the 38th minute, again from a cross kick behind the defense.
Dixon drove over from a lineout in the 55th minute and Douglas dummied and strolled over from a scrum after 67 minutes.
The match was played without spectators after an Australian traveler to Wellington tested positive for COVID.
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