Samoa clinically dispatched the resilient USA in Brighton and, for the most part, kept their discipline and shape from start to finish.
It was always going to be a difficult task to live up to the events of yesterday on the south coast, but the bright skies and bubbly atmosphere ensured it was another enjoyable spectacle.
The Samoan coach, a straight-talking tactician called Stephen Betham, had named the second most experienced starting XV they had ever fielded at a Rugby World Cup. However, it was Tim Nanai-Williams in just his second Test who opened their try-scoring with Captain Ofisa Treviranus adding a second after the break.
The difference ultimately between the two sides was the steady boot of Tusi Pisi, who from the tee scored 12 vital points and the fly-half now just needs 14 points to overtake Earl Va’a’s Test record of 174. Replacement Michael Stanley also chipped in with three points.
The USA too scored two tries through Skipper Chris Wyles and Chris Bauman with number 10 AJ MacGinty making up their scoring with two penalties.
Mark Tolkin, The Eagles head coach, will have been pleased with his team’s ability to threaten when they had the ball in hand. However, he would have been disappointed by their shortcomings at the set piece in both the line-out and scrum as well as the amount of unnecessary penalties they conceded, which eventually cost them.
On a far calmer afternoon in Brighton then a day prior Tusi Pisi opened the scoring with a penalty from in front of the posts after 7 minutes. It was the quietest opening exchanges of a game at this year’s World Cup so far.
But the crowd were on their feet when Nanai-Williams, cousin of All Black Sonny Bill, opened the try-scoring with his first Test try midway through the first half. The fullback pounced on a lovely grubber kick from Tusi Pisi, but the fly-half couldn’t add the extras.
Tusi Pisi and MacGinty then traded penalties before the Eagles crossed for their first try through Skipper Wyles after 34 minutes.
It was fly-half MacGinty who made the initial break from his own half before a lovely piece of interplay ended with captain Wyles receiving the offload and diving over. But the number 10’s attempted conversion sailed just wide of the left post, 11-8
Tusi Pisi would kick another routine penalty a minute before the break to stretch Samoa’s lead, in what had been an end-to-end contest, to six points at half-time.
Samoa would stretch their lead again five minutes into the second half when Skipper Treviranus touched down. The flanker pounced on the loose ball to give his side some breathing space, but Tusi Pisi’s attempted conversion hit the post, 19-8.
The fly-half would extend Samoa’s lead to 14 points after 50 minutes with another routine penalty, but it was quickly cancelled out by his opposite number MacGinty.
Stanley superbly landed a kick from 40 metres though to increase Samoa’s lead once again to two converted scores.
However, the Eagles were not done just yet as Chris Baumann wriggled his way over to keep the game alive. MacGinty was not able to add the extras, meaning they trailed by nine points with the clock very much against them as the Samoans held on for the win.
Samoa next take on the wounded Springboks side at Villa Park in Birmingham next Saturday, but with Pool B wide open after Japan’s stunning victory over the two-time champions on Saturday, The USA will still maintain dreams of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time.
Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams; Ken Pisi, Paul Perez, Reynold Lee-Lo (Mike Stanley 1), Alesana Tuilagi; Tusi Pisi, Kahn Fotuali’i; Ofisa Treviranus (capt), Jack Lam, Maurie Fa’asavalu (Alafoti Fa’osiliva 50); Iosefa Tekori, Teofilo Paulo; Anthony Perenise (Census Johnston 50), Ole Avei, Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: Motu Matu’u, Viliamu Afatia, Faifili Levave, Vavao Afemai, Fa’atoina Autagavaia.
United States: Blaine Scully (Brett Thompson 50); Takudzwa Ngwenya, Seamus Kelly, Thretton Palamo, Chris Wyles (capt); AJ MacGinty, Mike Petri; Samu Manoa, Andrew Durutalo, Al McFarland; Greg Peterson (Daniel Barrett 57), Hayden Smith (Cameron Dolan 50); Titi Lamositele, Zach Fenoglio (Phillip Thiel 50), Eric Fry.
Replacements: Oli Kilifi, Chris Baumann, Shalom Suniula, Folau Niua.