Jones relieved after victorious farewell

Outgoing Samoa coach Michael Jones was relieved to see his side finally get a win on the board as they brought the curtain down on a disappointing World Cup campaign with a 25-21 victory over the United States in St Etienne on Wednesday.

Lome Fa’atau, Alesana Tuilagi and Kane Thompson scored first-half tries as the Polynesians avoided the ignominy of going through the tournament winless, following earlier Pool A defeats to South Africa, Tonga and England.

They were pegged back in the second half, and the US grabbed scores through Takudzwa Ngwenya and Louis Stanfill to close the gap.

But the Pacific Islanders held on much to the relief of New Zealand legend Jones, who will now leave his post after seven years’ involvement in Samoan rugby.

“It is wonderful to get a win,” he said. “We have been waiting for this, and it is important that we achieved it.

“We had a great first half, and we showed glimpses of our potential.

“In the second half, we warned that they could come back well, like they did against England and Tonga, and we really want to give credit to them.

“I am a strong believer in the potential of Samoa. And in the first 40 minutes, I’m pretty sure the rugby world saw what we were capable of.

“We didn’t do too well in periods of the second half, like in the last 10 minutes against England and when we lost to Tonga.

“It’s been that kind of journey for us – we’ve spent more time in valleys than in the mountain tops.”

Samoa may have avoided the group’s wooden spoon but Jones admitted it had been a campaign of underachievement by his side.

“We are obviously disappointed that we couldn’t get to the levels we set ourselves because we firmly believe we were capable of them,” added the former All Blacks back-row forward.

“There is a disappointment that we didn’t reach the levels of our potential consistently.

“We have under-achieved. The expectation of our people was for us to do better and I take that on my shoulders as coach.

“We need to take time to analyse why we didn’t fulfil the potential. We showed glimpses but weren’t capable of doing it when it mattered, for 80 minutes.”

 

365 Digital

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