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).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
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

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea