Samoa 38, Lebanon 16: Samoans' experience clinches final World Cup place

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The Independent Online

Samoa grabbed the last place in next year's World Cup in Australia and never looked like relinquishing it to a brave but ultimately outgunned Lebanon at Featherstone last night.

The Samoans, consisting largely of players with top-flight experience on one side of the world or the other, will be in a group with Ireland and Tonga and strongly fancied to progress.

Quicker and stronger than Lebaonon in the early stages, they took control with tries from Chris Vaegafa and Tangi Ropati, plus the first three of Joseph Paulo's seven goals.

The one bright moment for the Lebanese came when their clever scrum-half, George Ndaira, put through a kick which was brilliantly plucked out of the air by Phillip Tatchi for their first try.

Even then Samoa found a way to respond in a way which showed their superior power by pushing the Cedars off the ball at a scrum for their captain, Nigel Vagana, to score. Frank Puletua also got over before the Lebanese did well to keep the ball alive for Adham El Zbaideh to go over in the corner.

Andreas Bauer got the Samoans moving again in the second half on the end of a well-worked try, although Danny Chiha and Tom Joseph got a couple back for a Lebanese side who refused to give up. They would have been considerably closer if they could have kicked any goals, but Hutch Maiava sealed Samoa's victory seven minutes from the end.

With more players expected to commit themselves to Samoa, they can be a major stumbling block in Australia.

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