Wales made it two wins out of two in their June internationals as they came from behind to defeat Samoa 19-17 at Apia Park on Friday. Two points the difference. Yes it was slightly better but still not good enough with the Manu Samoa losing to Wales, 19-17, at Apia Park last night.
And with the critical World Cup qualifying match coming up against Tonga, Samoa will have to get their act together quickly.
Without a doubt, the coaching staff would be furious because this was a game they could have – and should have won. Not to mention playing in front of their patriotic Samoan crowd.
They were fired up from the start. In soggy and wet conditions, they jumped out of the blocks to a 10-0 lead in the first ten minutes but what happened next and how it happened are among the questions they will have to address over the next few days.
A weakened Wales team came with a simple plan.
They were physical up front and they quickly adapted to the wet conditions. Sam Davies and Gareth Ainscombe were quite happy to play aerial ping-pong all night, testing Samoa under the high ball.
It was boring and predicable rugby but it was effective – and they won. They were patient and when the opportunity to strike was presented, they took it. Two tries from winger Steffan Evans were enough to give them the win and the bragging rights.
It was their sixth win in 10 tests against Samoa and their first on Samoan soil and Welsh Captain Jamie Roberts was naturally delighted with the victory.
"It's one of the toughest games I've played in,” he said. “The conditions were pretty atrocious and both teams were limited to playing a bit of a kicking game.
"I'm so proud of the lads. It was a bit of an arm-wrestle but to come through in the last 10 minutes showed a lot of grit from the new lads."
Manu Samoa Captain David Lemi on the other hand said he was disappointed with the result.
Looking ahead, he said the team needs to show more patience and discipline. “I thought we could’ve been a bit more patient in some aspects,” he said. “Our discipline wasn’t great at times but having said that I’m still proud of the efforts from the boys.”
Lemi said he was sad the Manu Samoa could not deliver a result for their fans but is optimistic they are making progress. And he should. After the humiliating 78-0 loss to the All Blacks last week, coming within two points of Wales was an achievement.
Over the next few days, the team would be ruing countless mistakes, which handed Wales the win. One of them was a brainless Tusi Pisi kick which was charged down. From there, Wales went to score.
Wales fell behind early in the match when Manu Samoa winger, Alapati Leiua, finished off a fantastic backline move within five minutes. They try came on the back of a fiery start from Manu Samoa where Leiua secured possession with a massive tackle.
Pisi added the conversion for a 7-0 lead. A penalty kick from Pisi moments later allowed Samoa to increase the buffer, 10-0.
But the lack of discipline cost Samoa and this allowed Davies to keep Wales in the hunt with three penalties in the first half, 10-9. Wales survived a Samoan wave of attack at the end of the first half.
They repelled Samoa for 11 phases before Pisi launched a lame dropped goal, which was a disappointing end to the half.
Wales had the better of the early stages of the second half. And they cashed in with their first try when flanker Aaron Shingler charged down a Pisi clearance. Wales retained the ball and Evans crossed for the easy try on the left wing.
Samoa replied in the 52nd minute with a try to hooker Maatulimanu Leiataua after a break through the middle of a ruck from halfback Kahn Fotuali'i.
But all that good work was undone when Evans scored his second try to claim the win.
Tries: A Leiua, Leiataua Cons: Pisi 2 Pen: Pisi
Tries: Evans 2Pens: S Davies 3
Samoa: 15 D’Angelo Leuila, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 David Lemi (c), 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Fata Alafoti Faosiliva, 7 Galu Taufale, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Faatiga Lemalu, 4 Chris Vui, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Maatulimanu Leiataua, 1 Viliamu Afatia
Replacements: 16 Seilala Lam, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Bronson Fotualii-Tauakipulu, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Vavae Tuilagi, 21 Dwayne Polataivao, 22 Henry Taefu, 23 Tila Mealoi
Wales: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Cory Allen, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jamie Roberts (c), 11 Steffan Evans, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Scott Williams
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa) Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
(With thanks to the Samoa Observer)