Planet Rugby

Preview: Samoa v Canada

08th November 2012 14:50

Share:

Tusi Pisi Samoa RWC 2011

Tusi Pisi: Key man for Samoa

Samoa and Canada clash for the first time in more than a decade and only the third time ever when they meet at Colwyn Bay in Wales on Friday.

This match will be part of a double-header which also features Russia and the United States in the early game.

The south sea islanders, who won both previous encounters against the Canucks in 1999 and 2000, are currently three places higher than their opponents in the IRB rankings in tenth position and are favourites to win, to build momentum ahead of next week's match against Wales in Cardiff.

Samoa coach Stephen Betham has, however, left out some of his more experienced players and will field four debutants - lock Filo Paulo, flanker Tivani Foma'i, left wing Robert Lilomaiava and midfielder and rugby league convert Setaimata Sa - while loosehead Sakaria Taulafo will captain the side.

But even a second-string Samoan side is a dangerous one. Their big strength is their physicality and if the Canadians want to be successful they must not try to match them in that department.

Samoa are still without stalwarts like Mahonri Schwalger, who led Samoa at last year's World Cup, and centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu.

The experienced duo were dropped earlier this year for criticising Samoa's World Cup team management and the IRB.

Fuimaono-Sapolu believes although the performances of senior backs Tusi Pisi (fly-half) and George Pisi (outside centre) will be crucial for Samoa, much will depend on the forwards' showing.

"The key is Tusi Pisi at 10 and his relationship with either Jeremy Su'a or Kahn (Fotuali'i) at nine," he told Planet Rugby in an exclusive interview.

"(Also) George Pisi at 13.

"Samoan backs are generally world class. But northern hemisphere tours are all about the forwards. Tom Coventry as forwards coach has been wonderful for Samoa in recent times."

Fuimaono-Sapolu feels London Irish back-rower Ofisa Treviranus is a player who could make a big impact in this match and in Samoa's other end-of-year Tests against Wales and France.

"There is so much talent in the pack," he said.

"I hope Ofisa Treviranus has a big tour. His testing scores (at training) are always quicker than the wingers!"

Canada must not be underestimated however and Fuimaono-Sapolu feels his countrymen will have to be at their best to beat Kieran Crowley's troops.

"Canada are a great team," he added.

"Pretty much in the same boat as us, Samoa. We've always said if America and Canada took rugby serious, they'd have 7ft locks, 6ft6 props and world class sprinting wingers.

"They had a great showing at the Rugby World Cup. Samoa really have to hone in on their style they want to play."

Canada have made nine changes from their last Test against Georgia in June. There's a new front-row with Ray Barkwill starting at hooker alongside props Doug Wooldridge and Hubert Buydens while Jon Phelan comes into the second-row in the only other change up front.

Amongst the backs, there's a new half-back pairing in Sean White (scrum-half) an Connor Braid (fly-half) while Ciaran Hearn slots in at outside centre and Matt Evans and Taylor Paris are the new wings.

Canada suffered a setback when loose forward Jebb Sinclair, who recently finished a stint with Western Province in the Currie Cup, was ruled unavailable as he did not receive his visa in time to return to the UK from South Africa.

Added to that, other regulars like utility-back DTH van der Merwe (hamstring) and back-rower Adam Kleeberger (back) are struggling with injuries while coach Crowley has opted to rest veteran lock Jamie Cudmore for Canada's UK tour which also includes matches against Russia at Colwyn Bay and the New Zealand Maori in Oxford.

Canucks manager Gareth Rees knows his side will have to deliver an impressive performance if they want to be victorious against Samoa.

"They are a very good side, all full professionals," he said.

"They are a confident side, as we saw during their performances in the Pacific Nations Cup.

"They have a very strong coaching staff, with a pretty impressive group of leaders there."

Players to watch:

For Samoa: London Irish back-rower Ofisa Treviranus is a powerful runner who could prove a handful for Canada's defence if he builds up a head of steam. Treviranus is also an adept defender and don't be surprised if he rattles some of the Canucks' bones with some big hits.

For Canada: Captain and number eight Aaron Carpenter's leadership will be important but he will also be expected to get his team over the advantage line with ball in hand. This is no mean feat as the Samoans enjoy the physical nature of defence but if Carpenter's tight-five can give him a solid platform he might prove a handful.

Head-to-head: Although they won't be direct opponents the midfield battle between Canada's Phil Mackenzie and Samoa's George Pisi will be pivotal. Both are plying their trades in the Premiership and their experience will be vital particularly in the early stages to help the younger players around them.

Previous results:

2000: Samoa won 41-22 in Apia
1999: Samoa won 17-13 in Vancouver

Prediction: Although Samoa are not fielding their strongest side, they should get the better of the Canucks who are also without some of their top players. Samoa to win by 12 points.

The teams:

Samoa: 15 James Sooialo, 14 Paul Perez, 13 George Pisi, 12 Setaimata Sa, 11 Robert Lilomaiava, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Jeremy Su'a, 8 Taiasina Tuifua, 7 Fomai Tivaini, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Fa'atiga Lemalu, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo (c).
Replacements: 16 Ropeti Lafo, 17 James Johnston, 18 Joe Tekori, 19 Alafoti Faosiliva, 20 Kahn Fotuali'i, 21 Johnny Leota, 22 Fa'atoina Autagavaia.

Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Taylor Paris, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Phil Mackenzie, 11 Matt Evans, 10 Connor Braid, 9 Sean White, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 Chauncey O'Toole, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 Tyler Hotson, 4 Jon Phelan, 3 Doug Wooldridge, 2 Ray Barkwill, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Hamilton, 17 Jason Marshall, 18 Andrew Tiedemann, 19 Brett Beukeboom, 20 John Moonlight, 21 Eric Wilson, 22 Nick Blevins, 23 Jeff Hassler.

Date: Friday, November 9
Venue: Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay, Wales
Kick-off 20:15
Weather: Moderate rain is expected. 11C max
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)

By David Skippers

Rugby Union betting odds

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs ToulonUlster vs Toulon Preview
Scarlets vs LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Preview
Bath vs ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Preview
Montpellier vs GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Preview
Northampton vs OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs ConnachtExeter vs Connacht Preview
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs LionsWestern Province vs Lions Preview
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615