Samoa stay 10th in rankings despite shock win
Story and Photo: www.irb.com
Samoa may be celebrating an historic first ever victory over Australia, but their loss to Tonga in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup earlier in the week means they remain 10th in the latest IRB World Rankings, albeit a little closer to Scotland above them.
The Samoans would have slipped to 12th – below Italy and Japan – had they not beaten the Wallabies 32-23 at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Sunday, the morale-boosting victory giving their rating a two-point increase to negate the effects of the 29-19 loss to Tonga.
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Samoa finished bottom of the Pacific Nations Cup standings after losses to Fiji and Tonga, results which mean the Islanders still trail Scotland by 2.8 rating points. However, the win over Australia will have sent a warning to their RWC 2011 Pool D opponents South Africa, Wales, Fiji and Namibia.
The loss proved costly for Australia as they surrender second spot to South Africa, their next opponents in the opening match of the 2011 Tri Nations on Saturday. Robbie Deans’ men are now a point behind the Springboks, while New Zealand’s advantage at the top has grown to 6.75 points.
Samoa’s victory denied Japan the chance to mark their first ever Pacific Nations Cup title with a new high of 11th, the Brave Blossoms instead having to settle for a one-place climb to 12th, equalling their highest ever standing since the IRB World Rankings were introduced in October 2003.
Japan’s 24-13 victory over hosts Fiji last Wednesday has lifted them to within two rating points of the top 10, somewhere the Fijians sat until a Pacific Nations Cup campaign which also included a defeat against the lower ranked Tonga and victory over defending champions Samoa.
Tonga’s latest victory over Samoa has lifted them another place to 13th, one shy of their highest ever ranking, although they missed out on the Pacific Nations Cup title after Japan scored a bonus point clinching try at the death against Fiji to pip them on the head-to-head rule.
It is Fiji, though, who are the biggest losers over the course of the Pacific Nations Cup with a two-place fall to 14th – their lowest ever standing. Fiji had been the higher ranked of the quartet going into the tournament, but are now the lowest after dropping four places.
The weekend’s other match saw Kenya retain the Elgon Cup despite a 32-18 loss Uganda at the Kyadondo Rugby Club in Kampala. Kenya, though, are the biggest fallers of the week, dropping three places to 40th with Lithuania, Zimbabwe and Sweden the beneficiaries.
Uganda’s victory ended Kenya’s hopes of winning the Victoria Cup – contested by the pair and Zimbabwe – and also resulted in a two-place rise to 43rd, lifting them above Sri Lanka and fellow African nation the Ivory Coast.