Planet Rugby

Preview: Wales v Samoa

16th September 2011 14:51

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Samoa celebrate World Cup win over Wales in 1999

Samoa: Repeat of 1999?

Warren Gatland will arrive in his home town of Hamilton this Sunday as his Welsh charges look to get back on the 2011 World Cup horse against Samoa.

How they must have struggled to shake off that loss to the Boks, and their difficult task shows no sign of abating as the in-form Samoans arrive, particularly after coming unstuck both times they have met the islanders in the global tournament, losing 16-13 in 1991 and 38-31 eight years later.

Should they crumble to Samoa in Waikato, then their hopes of running out for the 2011 knockout stages will have tired to the point of exhaustion.

"We are all very aware that we must go out and match the performance from last weekend," Gatland explained to Press Association Sport.

"We must win on Sunday, that is the bottom line. There are no second chances after Sunday, it's that important to us."

There were a great deal of positives for Wales to take from that narrow defeat to South Africa, of that there is no doubt. Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau, Jamie Roberts and Rhys Priestland were four of their top performers and the quartet will need to be of that same standard against a nation who thoroughly enjoys playing Wales.

"I don't think the players are taking notice of what has happened in the past," added captain Warburton when asked about previous World Cup meetings with Samoa.

"It's all irrelevant. The squad is a lot different now. They have some big ball-carriers, so we know it is going to be a big physical challenge."

That is what Wales should rightly expect from their opponents who, unlike the Springboks, might shoot up in the defensive line in umbrella-like fashion in an attempt to force the mistake. It is also worth mentioning that in-form British & Irish Lions centre Roberts may not have the same bulldozing joy he had against the turnstile that was Morne Steyn.

Standing in his way will be Tusi Pisi - if he comes through the warm-up unscathed. Pisi is a sound organiser and with Kahn Fotuali'i and Seilala Mapusua either side, Samoa are blessed with reassuring and experienced playmakers. Wider out the scoring form of Alesana Tuilagi will also be a threat of note. Welsh Ospreys will know all about him.

Wales know they are set for a scrap in what's shaping up to be one the toughest Pools in recent World Cups. Also bear in mind this is a 'home' game for Samoa. First major upset?

Players to watch:

For Wales: Samoa may look to unsettle the Welsh half-backs with their physical approach so Mike Phillips must keep his cool at the base. One player who looked like he was playing in his 50th Test last week was young ten Rhys Priestland. But can he back it up this week?

For Samoa: He scored three tries in their opening win against Namibia, so Alesana Tuilagi has to be one to watch out for both Wales and the neutral. Meanwhile, Paul Williams is another to follow as the former Sale man very seldom makes mistakes at the back.

Head-to-head: Two star players from their respective opening fixtures go toe-to-toe on Sunday as Toby Faletau and George Stowers line-up in Waikato. Both are strong carriers and will be looking to get their teams over the advantage line so keep an eye out for both men. Also catching the eye will be the clash between Jamie Roberts and Seilala Mapusua.

Previous results:

2009: Wales won 17-13 in Cardiff
2000: Wales won 50-6 in Cardiff
1999: Samoa won 38-31 in Cardiff
1994: Samoa won 34-9 in Moamoa
1991: Samoa won 16-13 in Cardiff
1988: Wales won 24-6 in Cardiff
1986: Wales won 32-14 in Apia

Prediction: Cannot wait for this game. Wales by 5!

The teams:

Wales: 15 James Hook, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Bradley Davies, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Tavis Knoyle, 21 Scott Williams, 22 Leigh Halfpenny.

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 Fa'asavalu, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Daniel Leo, 4 Kane Thompson, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Mahonri Schwalger (c), 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Census Johnston, 18 Joe Tekori, 19 Taiasina Tuifu'a, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu, 22 Tasesa Lavea.

Date: Sunday, September 18
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 15.30 (03.30 GMT)
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Jérôme Garces (France)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)

By Adam Kyriacou

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