Kiwis battle past Tonga
Skipper Marshall and debutant Goodwin both score twice for Kiwis
Last Updated: 14/10/09 11:38am
Marshall: Two tries for Kiwis
New Zealand warmed up for the forthcoming Four Nations tournament in England with a hard-fought 40-24 win over Tonga.
Captain Benji Marshall scored two of his side's eight tries in the one-off Test, though the Kiwis didn't have things all their own way in Rotura.
Tonga crossed their opponents' line three times, Etuate Vaisele grabbing two of them, without reply during the second half to level the scores at 24-24.
However New Zealand avoided being on the wrong end of an upset, debutant Bryson Goodwin helping himself to a brace to make sure of victory.
The Canterbury Bulldog was one of four new faces in coach Stephen Kearney's starting 13, while there was also Super League representation on the bench with Wigan's Thomas Leuluai.
Having fallen behind to a try by Tongan captain Felete Mateo, the reigning world champions seized control of the contest to lead 24-8 at the break.
Marshall grabbed their first points when he touched down after a fine break by half-back Issac Luke, who burst clear down the middle of the field.
Although Sam Huihahau replied at the other end, further scores from debutant Junior Sau, Sam Perrett, Nathan Fein and Steve Mati opened up what should have been a comfortable cushion for the Kiwis.
Instead they failed to build on a strong opening 40 minutes, Vaisele's double and an effort from Viliami Mataka levelling things up.
Marshall put New Zealand back in front, though, with his second of the night just before the hour mark. Winger Goodwin then ended Tonga's resistance by getting two scores before full time.
New Zealand are next in action on October 24 when they take on Australia at the Twickenham Stoop. England and France, the other two teams in the Four Nations, kick off the event the previous day in Doncaster.