Samoa edged out in Coffs Harbour

Australia A recorded a second successive IRB Pacific Nations Cup victory by edging out Samoa 27-15 in Coffs Harbour on Saturday.

Australia A led by as much as 17 points in the second half, but had to withstand a Samoan comeback that saw them score two tries in quick succession to bring the deficit back to five points at 20-15.

A final-minute try by Kurtley Beale flattered the home side in a match that was closer than the final scoreline would indicate.

The win means Australia A moves onto nine points for the competition, just one behind the Junior All Blacks, who disposed of Fiji 57-8 earlier on Saturday to maintain a perfect record after two rounds.

Australia A started strongly and built an early buffer on the back of some Samoan ill-discipline, wing Clinton Schifcofske piloting two long-range penalty attempts through the uprights for a six-nil lead after 13 minutes.

But despite dominating the opening stages it wasn’t until midway through the half that the Australians would convert pressure into points, Tatafu Polota-Nau touching down for his side’s first try off a rolling maul in the 26th minute.

Schifcofske converted for a 13-nil lead.

Samoa hit back with a penalty goal two minutes later to make it 13-3, which was the score into half time.

Just before the break the home side was dealt a blow with Lachie Turner suffering a shoulder injury that would result in him playing no further part in the match.

The injury will be assessed upon arrival in Townsville on Sunday.

The second half began slowly for the Australians with Samoa showing renewed enthusiasm after the break, the visitors upping the tempo in attack.

However their exuberance would come back to haunt them, Australia A replacement Dean Mumm scoring while the Samoans had a player in the sin bin for punching.

Mumm’s strike was converted by Schifcofske to give the Australians the upper hand at 20-3.

But Samoa was far from done, hitting back with an unconverted try to prop Justin Va’a in the 58th minute of play.

Lock Kane Thompson then steamrolled his way over the line to set up a grandstand finish, Australia A’s lead cut to 20-15 with just over ten minutes of play remaining.

Samoa surged again but were held at bay by the Australia A defence, while a series of skewed lineout throws also hurt the men in blue.

Australia A also lost man of the match Schifcofske to the sin bin for a late hit with three minutes remaining however it would ultimately not prove a hindrance.

In the end the final say went to Australia A, replacement fly-half Kurtley Beale toeing through a dropped ball to score next to the posts in the final minute of the match.

Beale’s touchdown was converted by Peter Hewat, taking the final score along to 27-15 in favour of the Australians.

Australia A relocate to Townsville on Sunday to prepare for next week’s clash with Japan at Dairy Farmer’s Stadium.

“It wasn’t a great performance,” Australian coach Laurie Fisher told AAP

“We had plenty of ball in the first half and didn’t do a whole lot with it. We were a bit untidy in our work.

“I think we lost the desire to take the ball forward in the second half.

“They came out and put some heat on in the second half and were quite robust.

“We had the chance to have the game really closed out, but we were a little bit headless in the things we did.”

The scorers:

For Australia A:
Polota-Nau, Mumm, Beale
Cons: Schifcofske 2, Hewat
Pens: Schifcofske 2

For Samoa:
Justin Va’a, Thompson
Con: Williams
Pen: Williams

With thanks to the ARU & 365 Digital

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