O'Gara's haul saves the day for Irish

Ireland 35, Samoa 8
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Under–strength Ireland ran in four tries in a 35–8 victory over Samoa here yesterday, on the same Lansdowne Road turf where its soccer team had triumphed 2–0 over Iran in a World Cup football playoff 24 hours earlier.

Front row Frankie Sheahan, fullback Jeremy Staunton and wingers Jordan Murphy and Tyrone Power all crossed the Samoan line while the visitors replied through Lome Fa'atau in an end–to–end move,

Irish scrum half contributed three penalties and three conversions for an Irish lineup which didn't have hooker Keith Wood, Dennis Hickie, Rob Henderson, had six newcomers on the lineup and was led by back row Anthony Foley. Wood likely will be back next week when the Irish will have a much tougher game against New Zealand.

After O'Gara had kicked the Irish ahead with an early penalty, fly half Earl Va'a replied for the Samoans with a kick. Prop forward Tomato Leupolu was sent to sinbin for 10 minutes for repeated negative play and O'Gara kicked his penalty before the Irish scored their second try through Sheahan with an O'Gara conversion with the Samoans down to 14 men and shorthanded in the pack.

A great tackle by Murphy halted a 60–meter Samoan break started by former rugby league star Va'aiga Tuigamala and continued by Brian Lima as the visitors, famed for their attacking style but defensive frailties and indiscipline scared the home fans.

After an O'Gara penalty in front of posts, the flyhalf missed another when his kick hit the post and Lima's 70–meter break in reply ended the second half with a knock on at the other end.

The Irish moved further ahead at 23–3 when fullback Staunton cut in from the right after British and Irish Lions center Brian O'Driscoll had been halted on the other side of the field. O'Gara converted.

But the Samoans, helped by some poor Irish tackling, ran the length of the field for a try in the 60th minute, Lome Fa'atau crossing the line in the corner. The conversion was missed but then came Murphy's try, the result of a kick ahead by O'Driscoll. Murphy got there before three Samoan defenders and O'Gara converted the scoring.

Ireland – Jeremy Staunton; Jordan Murphy, Brian O'Driscoll, Keith Maggs, Tyrone Howe; Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer; Eamonn Byrne, Frankie Sheahan, John Hayes, Mick Galwey, Gary Longwell, Eric Miller, Kieren Dawson, Anthony Foley.

Samoa – Tanner Vili; Lome Fa'atau, Brian Lima, Va'aiga Tuigamala, Steven So'oalo; Earl Va'a, Afato So'oiloa; Tomato Leupolu, Jonathan Meredith, Jeremy Tomuli, Opeta Palepoi, Kitiona Viliamu, Siaosi Vaili, Semo Sititi, George Stowers.

Referee – Ian Ramage, Scotland.