VenueApia Park, Samoa
Kick Off Time
3:05pm (Local), Saturday, 5 July 2008
1:05pm (Away), Sunday, 6 July 2008
Samoa have survived an injury-time denied try scare to beat Japan 37-31 at Apia Park today.
Things could have been a different ending if Japan’s wing Christian Loamanu’s try three minutes into injury time not been ruled out by the touch judge for a boot on the touchline, denying the visitors a comeback victory in the Samoa.
Japan will rue starting both halves slowly, in the first half they conceded two tries in the first eight minutes of the match to flanker Semo Sititi and hooker Loleni Tafunai – both were converted by full back Gavin Williams and saw them trail 14-0.
That deficit had been reduced to 14-10 by the end of the first 20, thanks to number 8 Ryu Koliniasi Makiri’s try and fly half James Arlidge’s conversion and penalty. Samoa nabbed another Williams penalty to edge further ahead just past the half hour mark.
Injury struck Japan shortly after this penalty & they lost captain and flanker Takuro Miuchi. This loss spurred them on and they bounced back to go in level at 17-17 at half time following a Shaun Webb try in injury-time, Arlidge again converted and things were dead even at the break.
The Japanese hard work quickly evaporated as Samoa got tries from prop Heroshi Tea and centre Anitelea Tuilagi – the latter converted by Williams. This took Samoa out to a handy 29-17 with 25 minutes left to play. Once more Japan courage came through and veteran wing Hirotoki Onozawa dotted down. Williams kicked one of two penalty attempts to give stretch Samoa out to a 32-24 advantage with 10 mins left on the ref’s watch.
Time was of the essence and the entertainment did come to the fore. Replacement second row Takashi Kikutani touched down for a try which was converted by Arlidge in the 75th minute to leave it a 1 point game with 5 to go. Samoa’s response was swift and another replacement scored a try and he was James Johnston for the home team.
The dying minutes had the vocal home ground in all sorts of emotions as the lead nearly had one more twist in mind, this was only a millimetres away as one Japanese foot touched the sideline. The crowd was treated to a spectacle of running, fierce and close rugby today.
Japan got two bonus points in defeat and nail 5th spot in the Pacific 6 Nations which is their best result in the 3 years. Samoa gets a bonus point win and just sneak ahead of their arch rival Fiji on the standings to claim 3rd spot.