Samoa need to do more

Rugby Union: South-West 16 Western Samoa 31
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The Independent Online
THE NEW England side need not worry too much about the strength of Western Samoa after their laboured victory over a makeshift divisional side at Gloucester last night. The Samoans strung together the only coherent move of the game but failed to look anything more than a run-of-the-mill committed club side.

They just about tipped the balance for the tour to five wins against four defeats but rarely rose above the workaday in doing so. Wild passes, predictable, unelusive running and sloppy handling were their hallmarks. Only as tacklers did the Samoans give full international measure.

If they want to look on the bright side, they could point to a handful of players who might make England uneasy on Saturday: The centre To'o Vaega showed the pace and force of a genuine top-class three-quarter. He also displayed an acute tactical brain, and when Samoa showed a sense of direction he was usually the player with his hand on the tiller. The scrum-half Joe Filemu also bristled with the busiest at the heels of the pack.

These two combined for the bright spot in the gloom of Kingsholm when they grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck after half an hour. A burst out of defence by Vaega took play deep into opposition territory. The scrum-half then combined with the flanker Sam Kaleta before the ball was released to the full-back Veli Patu, who darted through to score.

Patu followed up his try with a neat grubber kick past the South-West defence for the second row Mark Birtwhistle to score the Samoans' second try. Replacement outside-half Alan Autagavaia got the third when he found himself in acres of space, and Alex Telea got the fourth at the end with the English side already run into the ground.

The South-West scored tries at either end of the game: the first, five minutes in, when the rangy lock Craig Yandell loped over, and the second well into the second half from the centre Simon Enoch. The outside-half Richard Dix also kicked a couple of drop-goals. Despite the scores, there was little to warm the marrow at the sub-zero Gloucester ground - or not in the crowd, anyway. On the field, though, some joint-jarring tackles from the Samoans prevented the South-West from freezing up.

South-West Division: P Hull (Bristol, capt); N Deal (Northampton), A Turner (Exeter), S Enoch (Pontypridd), P Holford (Gloucester); R Dix (Harlequins), B Fenley; T Windo (both Gloucester), K Dunn (Wasps), D Hinkins (Bristol), D Sims (Gloucester), C Yandell (Saracens), P Glanville (Gloucester), J Pearson, E Rollitt (both Bristol). Replacements: B Stafford for Dix (55).

Western Samoa: V Patu (Vaiala); D Lima (Marist), T Vaega (Te Atatu/Moataa), K Tuigamala (SCOPA), A Telea (Petone); D Kellett (Ponsonby/Marist), J Filemu (Wellington); M Mika (Otago University), O Matauiau (Moataa), P Fatialofa (Manukau/Marist), F Lio Falaniko (Marist), M Birtwhistle (Suburbs), S Kaleta (Ponsonby), S Vaifale (Marist), P Lam (Auckland/Marist, capt). Replacements: A Autagavia for Kellett (82); B Reidy for Kaleta (45); S Smith for Lam (15).

Referee: D Mene (France).