New Zealand finished the day with a perfect three from three record after beating Samoa 31-24 but had to withstand a fierce fightback after Paul Scanlan was sent off within the first minute of the match.
Scanlan, who was also red carded against the All Blacks sevens in last weekend’s world series tournament in Singapore, was sent off for a high tackle on Caleb Tangitau.
Scanlan was a little unlucky in that Tangitau was falling at the time of the tackle, but Scanlan connected with the neck area and with force, leaving the officials few options.
Speedster Tangitau played a big part in New Zealand’s victory, scoring two tries, as did Regan Ware. Akuila Rokolisoa also scored for New Zealand.
But while they looked comfortable with a 17-7 halftime lead and one-man advantage, Samoa hit back through Owen Fetu and Vaa Apelu Maliko to bring the score to within five points at 24-19 before the All Blacks sevens eased away again thanks to Tangitau’s second try from 50m out.
New Zealand earlier accounted for Japan 40-14 and Wales 38-5.
Last weekend in Singapore, New Zealand, despite a two-year world series Covid hiatus, finished second in the Cup final to Fiji.