Samoa has joined Japan at the top of Pool B in the Rugby World Cup after a 25-16 victory over the United States of America in Brighton on Sunday. The Pacific Islanders scored two tries on a day when AJ MacGinty’s boot might have secured a losing bonus point or even an upset for the Eagles. In an early blow for the island side, Rey Lee-Lo was replaced by Mike Stanley as a concussion precaution in the opening two minutes, but he would be given the green light to return.
Tusi Pisi’s eighth minute penalty handed the Samoans first blood. Tim Nanai-Williams scored the match’s first try after 20 minutes when he won the sprint to the line after Pisi received the ball from a ruck some 15 metres out and cleverly split the USA defence with a grubber. After 27 minutes Pisi slotted another three-pointer to extend the lead to 11-0.
On the half-hour Mike Tolkin’s team was on the board when MacGinty put his first penalty of the day over. Two minutes later Chris Wyles was over the line. The US ran from inside its own 22 and it was MacGinty who broke the line before passing to Seamus Kelly who stepped inside beating another defender before offloading to Wyles who dived over the line for a sensational try that the flyhalf failed to convert.
Another Pisi penalty assured the two-time World Cup quarter-finalists of a 14-8 half-time lead at the Brighton Community Stadium. After five second half minutes the television match official was called into play. From another grubber kick a scrap ensued but Ofisa Treviranus’ try stood and it was 19-8 after Pisi’s conversion attempt struck the outside of the near post.
A pair of Pisi penalties sandwiched a MacGinty effort and with seven minutes left to play Tolkin’s team crossed the line. After playing the phases, replacement Chris Baumann picked up and dived over from about one metre out but the flyhalf missed again to make it a nine-point game in favour of Manu Samoa, who ran down the remaining minutes to secure four log points.
Photo credit: Kelley Cox