Nanai-Williams shines in Samoa win

Date published: September 20 2015

Samoa began their Rugby World Cup campaign with a 25-16 win over the USA, spurred on by the man of the match Tim Nanai-Williams.

Samoa were always ahead on the scoreboard thanks to tries from Nanai-Williams and their captain Ofisa Treviranus, along with the boot of fly-half Tusi Pisi.

USA fly-half AJ MacGinty shone in only his sixth cap for the Eagles, playing a major role in their first try and scoring two penalties, but despite a bright resurgence at the end of the first half the USA never truly looked like springing a surprise. 29 missed tackles proved to be their downfall.

The Pacific Island side have big ambitions in this tournament, which will have only increased after watching Japan's shock win on Saturday, but with the game under their control late in the second half they failed to score two more tries to secure a bonus point.

What a venue though Brighton has turned out to be, bathed in sunshine over the opening weekend and filled with enthusiastic supporters. 

Matching Saturday's extraordinary events was the tallest of orders but no one will have left the Community Stadium feeling short-changed.

Early rust was obvious as both sides initially opted to use the boot rather but as soon as their confidence levels rose after 20 minutes then the game came to life.

Adding the talent of Nanai-Williams to their backline has transformed Samoa's threat with the ball in hand, and it was no surprise to see the Chiefs star involved in their first try.

After bruising carries from the Samoan tight five Tusi Pisi spotted the change of direction from Nanai-Williams behind him and threaded a grubber behind the USA defence, with a kind bounce allowing the Samoa full-back to score.

The Americans work in defence had to be first-rate to keep Samoa's physical runners at bay but they paid for ill-discipline at the breakdown, allowing Tusi Pisi to stretch Samoa's lead at one point to 11-0.

AJ MacGinty's penalty appeared to spark the USA into life and the Dublin-born fly-half was heavily involved in a special try finished off by the captain Chris Wyles.

MacGinty burst through a gap in the Samoan defence inside his own half and combined with Seamus Kelly to release Wyles for the score.

Suddenly the deficit was only three points, but a third penalty from Pisi for Samoa ensured they were ahead 14-8 at half-time in an even contest.

Making metres through breaks from the likes of Maurie Fa'asavalu and Jack Lam, Samoa's power began to tell as they controlled territory and possession.

Samoa's dominance under the high ball set up their second try. Having targeted Takudzwa Ngwenya throughout the winger spilled the ball under pressure from Nanai-Williams, allowing Samoa to set up an attack close to the USA line from which Treviranus drove low and couldn't be stopped.

Pisi and MacGinty traded penalties but Samoa held a comforable 22-11 advantage heading into the final quarter.

Bonus points are now more crucial than ever in Pool B and while Samoa certainly carried with purpose, too often the final pass went astray to construct many try-scoring chances.

Replacement prop Chris Baumann's try for the USA set up an interesting finish with seven minutes to play, but it had no bearing on the final outcome.

Samoa will now prepare for the uneasy challenge of facing a humiliated Springbok side, but this was a solid start.

The scorers:

For Samoa:
Tries: Nanai-Williams, Treviranus
Pens: T Pisi 4, Stanley

For USA:

Tries: Wyles, Baumann

Pens: MacGinty 2

Samoa: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Ofisa Treviranus (c), 7 Jack Lam, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Zak Taulafo
Replacements: 16 Viliami Afatia, 17 Motu Matu'u, 18 Census Johnston, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Alafoti Faosiliva, 21 Vavao Afemai, 22 Mike Stanley, 23 Fa'atoina Autagavaia

USA: 15 Blaine Scully, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Thretton Palamo, 11 Chris Wyles (c), 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Al McFarland, 5 Greg Peterson, 4 Hayden Smith, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Zach Fenoglio, 1 Eric Fry
Replacements: 16 Phil Thiel, 17 Oli Kilifi, 18 Chris Baumann, 19 Cam Dolan, 20 Danny Barrett, 21 Shalom Suniula, 22 Folau Niua, 23 Brett Thompson

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

by Ben Coles in Brighton