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Rugby League World Cup: New Zealand 42-24 Samoa

Holders New Zealand fought off a late Samoa comeback to begin the defence of their World Cup crown with a 42-24 victory.

Sparked to life by a flare-up in the second half, Samoa fought back from an apparently impossible position at 36-4 down to score four unanswered tries and leave the Kiwis on the ropes.

The Kiwis conceded four straight tries as Samoa closed the gap to 32-24.

But Manu Vatuvei completed a second half hat-trick to close out the win and send New Zealand to the top of group B.

The defending champions will have plenty to work on ahead of their second pool game against France with 25 missed tackles and 13 errors letting Samoa back into the match.

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"There's the initial disappointment of the performance, but there's nothing to get deflated about," said All Blacks captain Simon Mannering.

"There's still a long way to go in the tournament."

The loose forward, who scored two of New Zealand's eight tries in Warrington, continued: "Hopefully it's a shot in the arm."

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