Samoa gave their hopes of RWC quarter-final qualification a big boost on Sunday as they comfortably dispatched Fiji 27-7 at Eden Park.
Samoa gave their hopes of World Cup quarter-final qualification a boost on Sunday as they easily dispatched Fiji 27-7 at Eden Park in Auckland.
While they only scored two tries through scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i and number eight George Stowers, Samoa will be delighted with the win.
They were slick, powerful and had ideas that made Fiji fall well short of their rivals. The real test comes next week against South Africa though.
Sailosi Tagicakibau thought he had scored early on but for an incredible last ditch tackle from Napolioni Nalaga that kept the scores a 3-0 following Tusi Pisi's early penalty goal. Samoa were most definitely in the ascendancy in the opening minutes as they enjoyed a sustained spell of pressure, possession and territory.
From that near miss from the London Irish wing, Samoa won a scrum penalty which Pisi converted from under the uprights. Fiji could not buy any ball as a statistic of 95 per cent territory in the first ten minutes said it all in Auckland, and when Pisi slotted a neat drop-goal, the lead was up to nine.
Gradually though, the ailing Fijians did manage to get something of a grip on procedings but were by no means turning the screw against their rivals, who held all the aces right up until the half-time whistle in a performance that was better than the 12-0 score suggested.
Pisi stroked over a fourth penalty early in the second-half before Fiji had their best passage of play with a rolling attack through the forwards, which was eventually ended by a turnover.
Tuilagi then knocked Tagicakibau backwards with a ferocious hit as the big collisions kept coming, but a huge tackle by Fiji's Sisa Koyamaibole on Pisi could not prevent Samoa's first try as the always threatening Crusader Fotuali'i darted over from the ruck.
Fiji's forwards came rumbling back and they were rewarded with a try when flanker Netani Talei went over after receiving the ball on the right for their only score of the day on the hour.
But Samoa found an immediate riposte when number eight Stowers powered over on the left. Hopes of a Fiji revival were hit when hooker Sunia Koto went off injured and they were denied a last-gasp consolation by a video replay.
Samoa now have the chance of reaching their first quarter-finals in sixteen years when they play South Africa on Friday, while Fiji face the Welsh next Sunday in Hamilton.
Man of the match: Tusi Pisi gave an intelligent showing at fly-half but the workrate and power of George Stowers sees him take this one. Paul Williams deserves a mention.
Moment of the match: Napolioni Nalaga's try-saving tackle on Sailosi Tagicakibau. Had the Samoans got the seven points at that point in the first half then things could have looked a whole lot worse for the Fijians. Kahn Fotuali'i's score was also a major moment.
Villain of the match: Huge respect between the two teams meant little aggro.
Tries: Fotuali'i, Stowers
Pen: Pisi 4
Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Gaby Lovobalavu, 12 Seremaia Bai, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Nicky Little, 9 Nemia Kenatale, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Mala Ravulo, 6 Netani Edward Talei, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Seko Kalou, 3 Deacon Manu (captain), 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements: 16 Talemaitoga Dautu Tuapati, 17 Setefano Somoca, 18 Rupeni Nasiga, 19 Akapusi Qera, 20 Vitori Tomu Buatava, 21 Albert James Vulivuli, 22 Waisea Sedre Luveniyali.
Samoa: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 George Pisi, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 George Stowers, 7 Maurie Faasavalu, 6 Taiasina Tuifua, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Daniel Leo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Mahonri Schwalger (captain), 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Filipo Lavea Levi, 19 Manaia Salavea, 20 Jeremy Sua, 21 Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu, 22 James Sooialo.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Stuart Terheege (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)