Planet Rugby

Preview: Wales v Samoa

15th November 2012 06:17

Share:

Wales v Samoa - George Pisi attempts to take on Jonathan Davies

A year on: Wales v Samoa

Wales - World Cup semi-finalists and current Six Nations champs - are under pressure to avoid five straight defeats when they take on Samoa on Friday.

The hosts are chasing their first victory since beating the Barbarians more than five months ago having lost all three Tests to Australia in June, before they came horribly unstuck against Argentina.

Indeed, the Welsh are still reeling from the disappoinment of last weekend's loss in Cardiff, where they turned in their worst performance since folding to defeat against France in the 2011 Six Nations.

Wales played clueless rugby throughout their clash with the Pumas and you wonder where the form of the Grand Slam and World Cup has now gone.

Warren Gatland - preparing for next year's British and Irish Lions tour to Australia - would have watched and wondered what he is coming into later in the month when he takes charge again. And the last thing interim coach Rob Howley would have wanted is the sight of bogey-side Samoa looming large on the horizon.

The big-hitting South Sea Islanders already have a win on tour under their belt this week after cruising past Canada 42-13 at Colwyn Bay. But despite their contrasting fortunes, Samoa will be expecting a fierce response at the Millennium Stadium as Wales bid to put their November Test series back on track.

It won't be easy though. Samoa claimed victories in Cardiff in 1991 and 1999, and were narrowly beaten 17-13 when the sides last met in the Welsh capital in 2009. More recently, Wales edged a bruising World Cup pool stage encounter when they were forced to make 142 tackles on their way to a narrow 17-10 win in New Zealand just over a year ago.

Be that as it may, Argentina didn't do the Samoans any favours and Wales will be smarting over that 26-12 humbling in their own backyard and making sure they get things right. If they don't, the Dragons' chances of securing a top-four seeding at the 2015 World Cup will take another nosedive.

At the moment, Wales are clinging on to their current world ranking of sixth by the skin of their teeth after last week's defeat with New Zealand and Australia still to come over the next three weeks.

"The win is even more important to us now. We still have a great opportunity in this series and we have worked too hard to let up now," said Wales number eight Toby Faletau, who was undoubtedly the most positive aspect of Wales' performance against Argentina.

"We have the chance to put right some of the things we got wrong against the Pumas. We know we are better than we showed last weekend and Friday is the time to prove it."

Ones to watch:

For Wales: In-form Ospreys loosie Justin Tipuric has been handed the Wales number seven shirt in place of captain Sam Warburton - current favourite to skipper the British and Irish Lions in Australia next year. The 23-year-old openside flanker's tackling, speed off the ground and work-rate around the pitch will all be vital ingredients in Wales' new selection mix.

For Samoa: Kahn Fotuali'i's influence will be crucial as the former Crusaders scrum-half prepares to face several of his Ospreys colleagues. Fotuali'i, in superb form for the Ospreys this season, has first-hand knowledge of Welsh rugby thanks to his stint at Liberty Stadium and will also be able to provide an insight on his regional half-back colleague Dan Biggar as the pair prepare to face each other.

Head to head: Toby Faletau v Taiasina Tuifua. How things shape between the heavies in the respective packs will influence which team gets greater licence for destructiveness, no doubt. Faletau and Tuifua - one of seven British-based players in Samoa's XV - have very similar physical dimensions and share an astonishing level of effervescence and work ethic. Faletau may just have an edge but there's no guarantee that his opposite number won't still strive to go that extra mile...

Prediction: A close one but Wales to edge it by 3!

The teams:

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ryan Jones (capt), 5 Ian Evans, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Scott Williams.

Samoa: 15 Faatoina Autagavaia, 14 Paul Perez, 13 George Pisi, 12 Paul Williams, 11 David Lemi (capt), 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Taiasina Tuifua, 7 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Daniel Leo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Villiamu Afatia, 18 James Johnston, 19 tbc, 20 Tivaini Fomai, 21 Jeremy Su'a, 22 Johnny Leota, 23 Robert Lilomaiava.

Date: Friday, November 16
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Venue: Millennium Stadium
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Jérôme Garces (France)
Television match official: Giulio De Santis (Italy)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
Sunday , April 27
Toulon vs Munster15:30
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs EdinburghGlasgow vs Edinburgh Preview
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
Sunday , April 27
Wasps vs Bath13:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs WaratahsBlues vs Waratahs Preview
Brumbies vs ChiefsBrumbies vs Chiefs Preview
Sharks vs HighlandersSharks vs Highlanders Preview
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058