Samoa head into World cup on a positive note

Samoa’s Rugby World Cup stars displayed plenty of vigour in front of home fans and went all out in their final match before the start of the tournament in New Zealand to produce a 37-10 win against a young Western Force outfit in Apia today.

Players were greeted by hot and humid conditions which were further exacerbated by a heavy downpour just minutes before kick-off.

The combination made for an extremely slippery surface however the home side were the quicker to adapt and made a flying start with a converted try just six minutes in before again finding the line not long after to take a 12-0 lead.

Flyhalf Willie Ripia opened the Western Force account with a penalty goal slotted at the mid-way point of the first half but the Samoan President’s XV hit back again just before half time with another try to take a 14 point advantage to the break.

The Western Force came out firing in the second half and produced a brilliant piece of play that began in their defensive goal and wound up seeing trial player Tim Bennetts crossing at the other end of the field.

Winger Alfie Mafi instigated the attack and his brilliant work was capped off by Bennetts before scrumhalf James Stannard slotted the conversion to bring the West Aussies back within seven points.

The home side earned some breathing space with a penalty shortly after however they found the going tough and were well held for 18 minutes before finding the try line again. With an emotion charged sell-out crowd cheering the Samoan’s on they managed another two tries in the dying stages to take a confidence boosting 27 point win into the World Cup.

Western Force Coach Richard Graham said his side had worked hard but gave the Samoan’s talented squad too much latitude in key spells to start and finish the game.

“Inside those first 15 minutes from kick-off we were 12 points down and I think only in the last few minutes of that first half we started to reach our potential on the field,” Graham said.

“Ultimately I think the lack of patience on our behalf and the weight of possession on their side saw Samoa capitalise on opportunities.

“There were some moments of brilliance however from the boys, the play that saw Tim Bennetts score his try was certainly a very positive thing to take from the game. The ball started in their end goal and was run 100m, it was certainly one of the best tries you’d see in a season at any level of rugby,” said Graham.

The Western Force enjoyed two competitive hit-outs against the Samoan World Cup squad which not only enabled the club’s youngsters to take on more leadership responsibilities without the Perth side’s Wallabies contingent, seven trial players travelled with the team and coaching staff were able assess them against a world class opposition.

“It has exposed a number of our players to this level of football and it’s very clear who we’ll recruit going forward,” said Graham.

“It also exposed all of our players to the expectations and the necessary preparation to play consistently well at this level of rugby.

“Off the field as well we made sure the players appreciated the hospitality from the Samoan community and we paid back their kindness by getting out to local schools and clubs which has definitely brought the players closer together as a team.

“We greatly appreciate the hospitality afforded us by the Samoan Rugby Union and we wish them all the best in their World Cup campaign,” said Graham.

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