Samoa survived a scare in Heidelberg, scoring three tries in the last 11 minutes to confirm their place at Rugby World Cup 2019 with a 42-28 second-leg victory over Germany.
Samoa began the game knowing they could lose by 50 points in Heidelberg and still punch their ticket to Japan 2019, so commanding was their first-leg victory a fortnight ago.
Having arrived in Europe with the 66-15 advantage, the visitors were all-but assured of their place in Pool A, however, an unlikely defeat looked to be on the cards when the hosts took a 28-21 lead with less than 15 minutes remaining.
Samoa had paid the price for an error-strewn performance but clicked into gear as Ah See Tuala – the Samoa’s standout player over the two legs – scored twice either side of an Ed Fidow try to break Germany’s resolve and spare his own side’s blushes.
Tuala finished the match with 22 points, while Fidow and scrum-half Melani Matavao each also touched down twice.
“Obviously, we’ve been together for a long six weeks, and we have enjoyed ourselves together and it has brought us closer together,” Samoa captain Chris Vui, who attended the post-match press conference draped in a Samoan flag, said.
“The game was a bit patchy, there were definitely a lot of errors that we thought we could have executed better, definitely in the lineout and dropped balls in general.
“It always goes back to those little errors with our team. It’s not a skill thing, is just execution. We can definitely work on it, it’s not a problem.”
Samoa (Pool A) now join Oceania neighbours New Zealand (Pool B), Australia & Fiji (Pool D) and Tonga (Pool C) in Japan at Rugby World Cup 2019.