Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Tusi Pisi and George Stowers, the Samoan tacklers, stop the Fijian Leone Nakarawa in his tracks during their Pool D match at the Rugby World Cup.
Tusi Pisi  and George Stowers, the Samoan tacklers, stop the Fijian Leone Nakarawa in his tracks during their Pool D match at the Rugby World Cup.

Samoan power too much for Fiji at Rugby World Cup

It was not the free-flowing Pacific islands rugby as promised, but Samoa keep alive their quarter-final hopes with a 27-7 in an error-strewn match.

AUCKLAND // It was not the free-flowing Pacific islands rugby as promised, but Samoa's quest to reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals is still possible after beating Fiji 27-7 in an error-strewn match.

Samoa scored two tries through Kahn Fotuali'i and George Stowers to one by Netani Edward Talei, all in a nine-minute span in a match watched by 60,237 that was otherwise littered with handling errors, turnovers and shoddy defence mostly from a flat Fiji.

Tusi Pisi, the fly-half, contributed with 15 points from four penalties and a drop-goal as second-place Samoa improve to 10 points in Pool D. That's five more than Wales, its only realistic runner-up rival who has played a match less and still has winless Namibia and the Fijians to come.

"This game is about pressure and we kept them under pressure," said Mahonri Schwalger, the Samoa captain. "When you play a side like Fiji, you've got to make sure you score points when you get in the 22."

Paul Williams, the Samoa full-back, was the standout player of the match, safe under the high ball and launching numerous counter-attacks.

The greatest moment of fluency in the match came at its conclusion: with players from both teams kneeling on the turf at Eden Park in front of tens of thousands of Samoan and Fijian expatriates, arms locked and heads bowed to be joined in prayer.

Fiji captain Deacon Manu had said the first World Cup clash between the two countries separated by 1,140 kilometres of South Pacific Ocean would bring big hits and entertaining rugby.

The big hits were occasionally in evidence but appalling handling and numerous turnovers put paid to any exciting end-to-end play.

When Samoa's siva tau challenge, led by Schwalger, was followed soon after it began by Fiji's response with its crouching cibi, the sell-out crowd of 60,327 roared its approval in the expectation of an ensuing battle to match that confrontation.

It never really came.

Samoa led 9-0 by the 13th minute from two penalties and a drop-goal from Pisi after totally dominating territory and possession largely because of Fiji's aimless kicking and inability to protect their own ball.

The lead would have been greater but for two wasted try-scoring opportunities.

Samoa worked a shortside move in the eighth minute for Williams to burst through and link with George Pisi, who found Sailosi Tagicakibau five metres out. But Fiji's Naipolioni Nalaga came from his opposing winger's blind spot to hold him up over the try line.

The video referee made that ruling and he was called into action again 10 minutes later when Alesana Tuilagi chipped into space. The ball rolled into the in-goal and the winger dived to try to ground it under pressure from an opponent, but to no avail.

Manu tried to inspire his players with a crunching tackle on Taiasina Tuifua. But Fiji could not match Samoa's intensity, the team's problems compounded by a malfunctioning scrum and line-out and struggles at the breakdown.

Pisi kicked another penalty while the Fiji centre Seremaia Bai missed with his only opportunity for Samoa to lead 12-0 at half time.

On numerous occasions, Fijian players either ran into each other or competed for possession with a teammate to turn it over. What little the backline saw of the ball, the passing was stilted and the players neither ran at pace nor displayed any sleight of hand or subterfuge.

Samoa's 76 per cent of first-half territory came from stealing two scrums against the head and a line-out whereas their own set pieces were perfect.

"In the first half, we didn't fire too many shots," Manu said. "We found it hard to hold onto the ball for phases."

Fotuali'i extended the lead to 20-0 by scooping the ball up and evading a couple of tacklers from close range to go over in the 62nd minute after Pisi had been brought down short of the line from a scrum.

Talei responded six minutes later for Fiji with a try converted by substitute Waisea Luveniyali to cut the gap to 20-7.

But Samoa hit back inside two minutes through the No 8 Stowers after excellent lead-up work by Williams, who converted from the sideline to end any chance of Fiji staging a comeback.

The Fijians never gave up, returning to set up camp in Samoa's quarter, but their finesse and skill levels never matched their commitment.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Glenn Maxwell's knock that followed ensured Brendon McCullum's knock went in vain after his explosive half-century took Chennai Super Kings past the 200-mark. Ravindranath K / The National

All is well with Punjab as Maxwell and Miller seal win against Chennai

The Australian missed out on a century but his 95 runs, along with Miller's unbeaten half-century, ensured Kings XI scaled a mighty peak of a target in a hot first game of Abu Dhabi's double-header.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet protests during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland, northeast England, on March 15, 2014. Ian MacNicol / AFP

Sunderland going out of Premier League with a grumble

Northeast club have underwhelmed during seven-year stay in the top flight

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 At 105 kg, Gabrielle Garcia has dominated the world circuit and loves many things about being in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Garcia seeks fresh challenge in MMA after her jiu-jitsu domination

Brazilian prides being a lioness in the sport but feels she can shed 25kg weight to pursue her MMA debut aspirations.

 England's Jonathan Trott hits out during the ICC Champions Trophy semi final match against South Africa at The Oval cricket ground, London June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Philip Brown

England’s Jonathan Trott sidelined with stress-related illness again

Jonathan Trott is to take a second break from professional cricket because of his stress-related illness as England and Wales Cricket Board and Warwickshire confirmed he will stop playing with immediate effect.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National