Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Samoa's Revenge

Still smarting from their loss to England, Samoa were in no mood to lose, they pushed the USA hard right from the start, with Lome Fa'atau [left] running in at one corner in the first five minutes. It went unconverted, but big bruiser Alesana Tuilagi liked the look of the opposite corner five minutes later. This time Loki Crichton was able to add the extra two points.

Shortly after, Samoa were pinged for wheeling their scrum, but Mike Hercus was unable to take the points. The scoreboard remained static for 20-odd minutes. Samoa had a chance when they pushed up into US territory; Prop Census Johnston spotted a gap and went for it, but it was knocked on by Crichton and the move came to nothing. Samoa were dominating the scrum and generally looked to have more shape.

Around the half hour, the US gave away a penalty and Samoa were able to take the score up to 15-0. A couple of minutes later, Samoa infringed and Hercus managed to put some points on the board, 15-3.

Things slowed down a bit for five minutes, until Somoan Lock Kane Thompson made it over the line right under the posts. It was an easy conversion for Crichton, taking the Samoans up to 22-3 at half time.

Both teams showed determination when they came out after the break, but it wasn't until the 51st minute when Eagle Fifita Mounga was sent to the sinbin. The team with a man down would normally expect to struggle and give away points, but the US managed to score themselves from a lineout in the Samoan 22, the ball made it's way to Takudzwa Ngwenya's hands and he scored in the corner, with Hercus adding the extra points, to bring the score up to 22-10.

Shortly after coming back from the sinbin, Fifita Mounga was flattened in a big tackle. Play stopped so the doctors could assess him and he was stretchered off. Hercus scored another 3 points from the penalty. Less than ten minutes later, Crichton replied with a penalty of his own at the other end of the field, bringin the score up to 25-13. Three minutes later, it was Hercus again to reduce the gap to 25-16.

After the restart, Samoan replacement Vaisola Sefo was sent off for taking a man off the ball; this time, Hercus chose to kick for the corner. The lineout was taken well, and the US pushed up to the 10m line, but their attack was eventually cleared by Tuilangi. The the Eagles were awarded a scrum five; it was reset twice, and eventually Flanker Louis Stanfill [left] crashed over in the corner in the 79th minute. Mike Hercus was unable to add the conversion, so the final score ended up 25-21 to Samoa. It was a close game, which neither side really deserved to lose; certainly the USA never gave up and gave Samoa a run for their money right up to the last minute.

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