Daniel Carter’s left boot underlined why the flyhalf will be so valuable at this year’s World Cup as he slotted 20 points to give the All Blacks a tense 25-16 victory over Samoa in their first visit to Apia on Wednesday.
Carter’s successful goal-kicking allowed the All Blacks to build scoreboard pressure in a tight first half before he produced a pinpoint cross-kick for winger George Moala to score a try on debut to open a 19-3 lead after halftime.
Samoa flyhalf Tusi Pisi slotted nine points for the home side, who put the All Blacks under pressure in the second half to get back to 22-16 after Alafoti Fa’osiliva’s try following two storming runs up the middle of the park.
Carter, however, slotted his sixth penalty with five minutes remaining to give the 2011 world champions their narrowest victory over Samoa in six matches.
The All Blacks had scored 50 or more points in four of their five previous games against Samoa, including a 101-14 thumping in their most recent match in New Plymouth in 2008.
The home side, however, capitalised on New Zealand’s typical slow start to a test season, with the All Blacks combinations appearing rusty and poorly timed.
New Zealand’s work at the back of the breakdown was also sloppy while the delay in delivery allowed the Samoan defence to put pressure on the first-up runners, midfield and outside backs and not give them any time to attack.
Despite creating numerous chances in the first half, Carter kept the scoreboard ticking as he slotted four penalty goals, while Pisi landed a long-range shot.
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