Wales hold on despite late charge from Samoa

Wales 17 Samoa 13

The ghosts of Samoa almost returned to haunt nervy Wales who came within inches of another embarrassing defeat in Cardiff to the South Sea islanders.

Twice Wales looked set to break clear but failed to take their chances and were pegged back by the gutsy Samoans eager to write their name in the history books yet again.

Seilala Mapusua scored an interception try to set up a nerve-jangling last 20 minutes here. Had his kick not rolled agonisingly out of play with Uale Mai hovering to score, they very well might have delivered the most significant defeat in Warren Gatland's two-year tenure as Wales coach.

Gavin Williams also missed a penalty in front of the posts and Henry Tuilagi was stopped yards short as Samoa finished with a flurry as another special victory was within their grasp.

In the end Wales held on, but only just, as two youngsters ensured history did not repeat itself. Leigh Halfpenny's early try and the coolness of 19-year-old fly-half Dan Biggar's boot ultimately proved the difference but the leadership of Ryan Jones was just as important as Samoa bullied their hosts for much of the second half.

Jones said: "It was about as tough as it gets in Test match rugby. The Samoans gave everything and really hit hard. But our boys dug deep for the victory that we wanted and needed. There is a courage, strong work-rate and work ethic with my guys and it was great we kept them out in the last five or six minutes.

"We need to look at cutting out the mistakes. We have been offering so much, but not quite delivering – we haven't had that clinical edge in our game. It has been a case of the last pass or the last phase letting us down."

There were worrying signs for Wales throughout this game and not for the first time against opponents whose name still sends a shudder down the spine of even the hardiest Welshman following the World Cup giant-killing acts of 1991 and 1999.

Of all the days to face their World Cup nemesis, Friday the 13th would have been the last date Wales would have been the last they wanted. Those woes of the past paled into insignificancy compared to those suffered by Samoa in recent months following the tsunami tragedy two months ago that killed more than 200 people in Samoa, including friends and family of this squad.

Such is Samoan rugby, with players dispersed around the world, they had just four days to prepare for this Test, naming seven British-based players including captain George Stowers and relying instead on passion and raw rugby ability.

Stowers said: "We can be so proud of ourselves for pushing a top tier nation close. It was a case of so near but after only a few days together, we showed again why we deserve to have more games against the big teams."

There were, of course with Samoa, huge hits that jarred bones and shuddered around the Millennium Stadium. A late shoulder barge on Dwayne Peel left the scrum-half sprawled and saw Bigger kick the opening points.

Inevitably Wales were the more match-ready after 80 minutes against the All Blacks last Saturday and that sharpness told in the opening minutes when Biggar's cross-field kick created the opening try. Halfpenny never took his eye off the ball as it floated enticingly over the head of David Lemi and the Wales wing collected and dived over for his fifth try in only eight Tests. Biggar missed the conversion but added a penalty after 17 minutes as Wales looked to break lose, armed with an early 11-3 lead and dominating the set-pieces as well.

Fa'atonu Fili and Halfpenny exchanged penalties either side of half time and Biggar added another after Henry Tuilagi was sent to the sin-bin on 51 minutes. But as Wales pressed, Mapusua picked off Biggar's pass to set up a dramatic climax.

Wales: Tries L Halfpenny Penalties D Biggar (3), L Halfpenny. Samoa: Try S Mapasua Conversion F Fili Penalties F Fili (2).

Wales J Hook; L Halfpenny, T Shanklin (J Davies, 49), J Roberts, T James; D Biggar, D Peel; G Jenkins, H Bennett (M Rees 63), P James (C Mitchell, 63), AW Jones, L Charteris (B Davies, 73), A Powell, R Jones (capt), S Warburton (J Thomas, 73).

Samoa L Lui; D Lemi, G Williams, S Mapusua, A Tuilagi; F Fili (U Mai, 64); J Poluleuligaga; H Tuilagi (H Fa'afili, 56); J Va'a, M Schwalger, C Johnson, F Levi, I Tekori (K Thompson, 58), G Stowers (capt), H Tuilagi, O Treviranis (J Fa'Amatuanu, 64).

Referee: P Fitzgibbon (Ireland).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'