The Kiwis dominated with speed and precision to defeat Tonga 26-6 in front of a sell-out red army at Mt Smart Stadium.
Paramatta Eels star, Dylan Brown’s Kiwis debut was much anticipated, and he lived up to the hype as he created opportunities for his teammates and starred alongside his other young teammates.
The Kiwis made their mark early with a sensational try by Jahrome Hughes in the third minute as he powered through the Tongan defence.
It was only less than five minutes later when Kiwis winger Jordan Rapana crossed the try line, finding some space as he was set up by Brown who made a break through the middle.
He almost crossed the line for a second time before Tonga’s Kotoni Staggs came in for a huge try-saving tackle.
Tonga attacked in the first half with Sione Katoa scoring his first international try but his side felt the blow after his teammate Christian Tuipulotu was sin-binned in the 29th minute for committing a foul.
It was winger Ronaldo Mulitalo’s impressive try in the 30th minute that highlighted New Zealand’s victory.
The 22-year-old debutant one-handedly caught a well-timed floater pass from Brown and then managed to stay in play to score whilst in the air.
His try gave the Kiwis a 14-point lead following Rapana’s conversion and from that point, it became a tough climb for Tonga to fight back from.
It was moments like his that showed how special the next generation of Kiwis stars can be.
There was a lack of action in the second half, but Isaiah Papali'i gave New Zealand fans more to cheer about as he crossed the try line for the first time in the black jersey.
Despite the score, Tongan fans lit the stadium red and continued to sing, chant and wave their flags throughout the match, showing why they are the most passionate supporters in rugby league.
Following the game, Kiwis captain Jesse Bromwich said he was pleased with his team’s attitude on defence which they needed particularly in the wet conditions.