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New Zealand 76 Papua New Guinea 12

The Kiwis will have a fully fit squad to choose from with the exception of Manu Vatuvei for the biggest challenge of their Four Nations campaign so far when they face the Kangaroos at Eden Park next Saturday night.
New Zealand 76 Papua New Guinea 12
by NRL

The Kiwis will have a fully fit squad to choose from with the exception of Manu Vatuvei for the biggest challenge of their Four Nations campaign so far when they face the Kangaroos at Eden Park next Saturday night.

The Benji Marshall-led New Zealand squad settled into their base on Auckland's North Shore this afternoon after threatening the Kiwis' all-time record Test-winning margin in their 76-12 victory over Papua New Guinea at Rotorua's International Stadium last night.

Tomorrow they'll begin the build-up to one of the biggest weeks for rugby league in this country with Eden Park, New Zealand's home of rugby union, the centerpiece. The week will culminate with a doubleheader at the stadium next Saturday when England meets Papua New Guinea (6.00pm kick-off) followed by the Kiwis taking on Australia (8.15pm kick-off), the first time rugby league has been played at the ground since the 1988 World Cup final.

Four major Four Nations events will be staged at Eden Park during the week.

On Tuesday, each of the Four Nations squads will be there for a fan day when the players will be involved in a huge skills session involving about 400 selected school children.

The teams will also be back at Eden Park on Wednesday night for the Rugby League International Federation's annual awards dinner and on Thursday the coaches and captains of all four teams will attend a media conference at the ground ahead of the main event on Saturday night.

The Kiwis will take a run of three straight wins into their encounter with the Kangaroos after beating Toa Samoa (50-6), England (24-10) and Papua New Guinea (76-12), scoring 150 points and conceding only 28.

An added bonus from their second straight Four Nations win was the fact they emerged without any injuries, having lost Vatuvei a week ago with a broken arm. Vatuvei, a rod inserted in his right arm late last week, joined his team-mates in Rotorua for the clash against the Kumuls.

He saw his replacement Sam Perrett score the first try of the match in just the third minute before adding two more in the second half for a personal hat-trick. His left side centre partner Junior Sa'u matched him with a first half try and two more touchdowns in the second spell.

With the Kiwis running hot to lead 46-0 at halftime, more of the same followed in the opening minutes of the second spell as they charged to a 62-0 advantage after only 49 minutes. New Zealand's record Test score of 84 (achieved against the Cook Islands in 2000) and the record winning margin of 74 points (74-0 v Tonga in 1999 and 84-10 v Cook Islands in 2000) was also vulnerable.

However, by then, coach Stephen Kearney had rearranged his line-up with Jeremy Smith interchanged at halftime and Benji Marshall and Simon Mannering following in the opening minutes of the second half. They never returned as Kearney worked through the last 35 minutes with just 14 players.

It resulted in Papua New Guinea rattling on two tries within two minutes of each other to reduce the humiliation but the Kiwis finished strongly with three more tries. They couldn't crack the overall Test record but the win was still their biggest against Papua New Guinea.

Match details:

At Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Kiwis 76 (Sam Perrett 3, Junior Sa'u 3, Jeremy Smith 2, Simon Mannering, Lance Hohaia, Greg Eastwood, Issac Luke, Jason Nightingale, Sika Manu tries; Benji Marshall 8 conversions; Issac Luke 2 conversions).
Papua New Guinea 12 (Emmanuel Yere, Glen Nami tries; Ryan Tongia 2 conversions).
Halftime: 46-0 Kiwis.
Referee: Ben Cummins (Australia).


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