Gatland: Welsh character beat Samoa

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The Independent Online

Wales coach Warren Gatland praised the character of his team after they ground out a deserved 17-10 win over Samoa in Hamilton on Sunday to record their first win over the Pacific islanders at a rugby World Cup.

After a 17-16 loss to South Africa in the Pool D opener, Wales knew Sunday's game was crucial against a Samoa side that had beaten Namibia 49-12. Samoa have also been something of a bogey team for Wales, winning their two previous World Cup encounters in 1991 and 1999.

"We knew today was a must-win game," said Wales coach Warren Gatland. "I thought we showed some great character today. To do well at a World Cup you need a little bit of luck and you need to show some character and I thought we did that today.

"I question perhaps, a few years ago or 12 months ago, we might not have won that game."

Wales proved the more expansive team at times, trying to run the ball out from their own line on one occasion with wing Shane Williams proving a handful on the left flank.

Gatland told reporters this had not been part of the gameplan.

"I thought in the first half we tried to play a bit too much rugby, particularly in our own half," he added. "Maybe we should have played a bit more territory and that put us under pressure with a few turnovers."

The tricky pool also includes Fiji and Namibia, as well the Springboks, and Samoa will now need to beat the defending world champions if they are to have any realistic hope of advancing.

The first points of the game came from the boot of Wales fullback James Hook before Samoa levelled through fullback Paul Williams.

Hook capitalised when Samoa were caught for collapsing a scrum to put Wales ahead 6-3 but Samoa came back strongly and were only denied a try when flanker Maurie Faasavalu was penalised for a double movement when he crossed over the line.

Samoa breached the Welsh line on the stroke of halftime when prop Anthony Perenise crashed over.

In the second half Rhys Priestland took over the kicking duties from the injured Hook, knocking two kicks over, and a try to Shane Williams was enough to see off Samoa.

Source: Reuters