Williams left red-faced over slip
Sonny Bill Williams made his mark on the Rugby League World Cup but he will not enjoy being reminded of it in years to come.
The former All Black enjoyed his first win with the Kiwis at the eighth attempt on his return to the team from a five-year exile as the holders saw off Samoa 42-24 in front of a sell-out crowd in Warrington.
But it was a hollow victory as the plucky Samoans roared back from a 36-4 deficit, and the embarrassment was complete when Williams fluffed a tryscoring chance 12 minutes from the end when he slipped on the greasy surface and failed to ground the ball with no defender in sight.
"Embarrassed to not score but nothing wrong with a lil humble pie," Williams tweeted. "Congrats to @RLSamoa on there (sic) performance."
The Sydney Roosters second rower was not the only man with a red face at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, where video referee Thierry Alibert incorrectly disallowed one of Samoa's five tries by pressing the wrong button and was forced to quickly change his message on the big screen.
It was only part of an eventful evening in Warrington where the 13,965 spectators, warmed up by two passionately-performed hakas, lapped up the 13-try feast and got behind the underdogs, much to the delight of Samoa's third-choice captain Sia Soliola, the St Helens forward who found it difficult to get his head around being cheered by Warrington fans.
"It was touching," Soliola said. "It was unreal."
The incidents over-shadowed New Zealand Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei's hat-trick of tries while captain Simon Mannering touched down twice for his side, who were due to fly out of Liverpool Airport on Monday morning to prepare for their next match against France.
The French were 9-8 winners over Papua New Guinea in Sunday's other World Cup Group B fixture at Hull KR, where there were fewer tries but just as much excitement as full-back David Mead missed a last-minute penalty for the Kumuls.
It was a welcome change of fortune for France and part-time coach Richard Agar, whose side suffered a humiliating defeat by the United States in their warm-up match.
"There are tears in the eyes of some of the officials," Agar said. "I forgot that France haven't won too many Test matches lately."