Kiwis Romp To RLWC Victory Over Bravehearts in Christchurch
Test rugby league returned to Christchurch with a bang, New Zealand crushing Scotland 74-6 in a thrill-a-minute Rugby League World Cup group match in front of 12,130 fans at AMI Stadium – the first international in the city since 2006.
The Kiwis ran in 14 tries, including hat-tricks to Peta Hiku and Te Maire Martin, while Shaun Johnson tallied 22 points to become his country’s greatest-ever point-scorer in Tests.
Kenny Bromwich charged over from close range off a deft Martin Taupau pass in the ninth minute to open the floodgates.
Jason Nightingale bagged an early double, scoring either side of a barnstorming 16th-minute effort from back-rower Joseph Tapine. The Kiwis’ offloading game caused havoc in behind the ruck and on both edges for the Scots, the likes of Taupau, Nightingale and Dean Whare particularly prominent.
Te Maire Martin backed up a break from man mountain Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who nonchalantly produced a flick pass to send the No.6 away for his maiden Kiwis try.
New Zealand completed its first-half domination by stretching Scotland’s left-side defence, allowing winger Peta Hiku to stroll in just before the break.
Somewhat mercifully for the visitors, Shaun Johnson was only able to convert two of the Kiwis’ six tries into a stiff breeze during the opening 40, restricting the halftime damage to 28-0.
The home side opened their second-half account through prop Russell Packer’s first four-pointer in the international arena and kept the acid on Scotland with Martin’s inch-perfect kick forcing a line dropout at the end of the ensuing set.
Nightingale then looked to have completed a hat-trick, but Tuivasa-Sheck’s cut-out ball was ruled forward by referee Henry Perenara. Hiku dipped out on nabbing his second shortly afterwards, butchering a gift-wrapped chance from a superb Johnson kick.
But the scoreboard started ticking over again thanks to some solo brilliance from Martin, firstly slicing through tired defence to score his second in the 52nd minute then splitting Scotland again to send Dean Whare away two minutes later.
Hiku belatedly had his second courtesy of Tuivasa-Sheck’s vision, zipping over out wide. Johnson was finding kicking with the wind far more palatable, nailing his fourth straight goal for a 52-0 lead.
Johnson snared an indelible piece of history a couple of minutes later, backing up a Tuivasa-Sheck bust to run away fora try and break Matthew Ridge’s all-time Test pointscoring record for the Kiwis of 168.
The halfback laid on the Kiwis’ 12th try with a pinpoint grubber, which Hiku planted for his hat-trick.
But respite finally came for the battling Scots in the 71st minute, halfback Oscar Thomas stepping through to score his team’s first try. Danny Addy piloted the conversion over for a 64-6 scoreline.
New Zealand had the last say, however, Martin capping an excellent display with his third try and hooker Elijah Taylor breaking away to add his name to the scoresheet.