Samoa Scrape a Win as USA Fail to Secure Losing Bonus Point

In what was expected to be a physically demanding game, Samoa and USA battled it out in their first games of 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Reynold Lee-Lo became the first victim of USA’s enthusiasm and determination not to be classed as underdogs in this fixture, as a thumping charge on Thretton Palamo left the Samoan on the floor. After being deemed fit enough to return to action, he took back to the field to join in on Samoa’s scrappy play, with the scrums and set pieces needing more control and steadiness.

Tusi Pisi added the first points to the scoreboard as he kicked over an easy three points for Samoa after USA conceded a penalty in front of the posts.

The USA began to increase their pace and looked to be challenging the Samoans, however a huge tackle by Tuilagi stopped them in their tracks. American full-back Blaine Scully failed to catch his chip and instead knocked the ball backwards and into the hands of Fa’asavalu. An electric charge from the forward gained them vital ground, however a scuffed penalty kick from Pisi gives USA possession to kick downfield. In the hands on Nanai-Williams, the speedster who enjoys his first World Cup with Samoa, gaps in the USA defence were spotted and the full-back galloped his way through.

With the game still lacking a certain excitement, Tuilagi collected the ball from the back of the scrum and added pressure by crashing his way through hoards of American players. Switching to blindside, he passed to Nanai-Williams who was on a diagonal charge until he slid across the whitewash. 8-0 to the Samoan and the game finally looked like it was gaining momentum.

Scully and MacGinty paired up minutes later to begin USA’s fightback, and after a Samoa penalty for three points, MacGinty made up crucial metres along the wing in their oppositions 22. Samoa looked panicked and led to an offside play, for which MacGinty kicked USA’s first points. 11-3 and the Brighton crowd made the most of this increase in enthusiasm from both teams.

Hungry for more points, it looked like MacGinty was going to earn himself a full five points, but a pass to Kelly continued onto captain Chris Wyles, who’s thrilling attack through a lacklustre Samoan defence saw him cross the line for himself. Holes in the Samoan line combined with a struggle to keep up with the Americans’ speed and skill left them in the dust of what was a scintillating try. It finally looked like the USA were on the attack. Despite this, another throwaway penalty gave Pisi anothr shot at the posts, for which he punished USA another three points. Half time, 14-8.

USA came out of the blocks with a bang as they set upon Samoa with an instant charge, but without using the ball effectively, the Samoans took opportunity when it arose. A quick collection and pass to Treviranus saw him go over the line, and after a quick TMO check by referee George Clancy for a forward pass, the try was awarded. 19-8.

Replacements galore, it was clear to see that both sides began to fatigue, especially by the Eagles who proceeded to give more penalties away due to a lack of discipline.

Both teams had a series of handling errors, and whilst replacements for Samoa included Faifili Levave and Michael Stanley on for Joe Tekori and Tusi Pisi respectively, the USA replaces Daniel Barret for Greg Peterson, who’s new contract at Glasgow Warriors will see him face club teammates when USA face Scotland next weekend.

The USA injected life into a game that was somewhat still overshadowed by Japan’s shock victory over South Africa at the stadium yesterday – Ngwenya had a superb run up field for USA and, despite finally being caught and tackled to the ground, caught Samoa off guard.

Samoa’s Tualafo came on for Matu’u as Stanley kicked a further three points, taking it to 25-11. A sneaky offload to Daniel Barrett gave the crowd something to cheer about, as did the replacement for Tuilagi, who walked back to the bench under a rapturous applause.

Chris Baumann, 20 minutes into his World Cup debut, scored his first try in the 74th minute, leaving the scoreboard to read 25-16. Samoa, resilient in attack, continued to avenge USA’s final burst on energy, but a penalty for holding onto a breakdown signalled the end of the match. Final score 25-16 in a game where Samoa perhaps looked for more tries and the USA will punish themselves for giving away too many penalties and not succeeding in gaining a bonus losing point.

After the match, head coach Mike Tolkein discussed how they will tackle the Scotland game next Sunday:

“We need more discipline, first and foremost, and we’re not going to get the penalty count that we had. Our scrum was strong and our lineout which has been a strength over the past few years needs straightening out. We had some good line breaks and we’ll be working on that again.”

Tim Nanai-Williams was named Man of the Match after making most metres (84) for Samoa as well as his try.

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