Manu Samoa Emptied the Tank in Tough Conditions against World No 1 Ranked Ireland

In difficult, wet conditions Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua’s side displayed great moments of elusive brilliance on attack and solid physical defense to give the World No 1 ranked side a scare ahead of the World Cup.

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Manu Samoa emptied the tank and came ever so close to causing the weekend’s second Pacific Rugby historical win against a Tier 1 nation following its 13-17 loss to Ireland in Bayonne.

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In difficult, wet conditions Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua’s side were cheered on by the French crowd as they displayed great moments of elusive brilliance on attack as well as solid physical defense to give the World No 1 ranked side a scare ahead of the World Cup.

Duncan Paia’aua scored Samoa’s only try in the 36th minute. The fullback raced away after an attempted pass from Irish centre Stuart McCloskey had hit him in the face.

Lima Sopoaga’s boot provided the conversion and two penalties to make up the rest of Samoa’s points.

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Samoa led 10-7 at halftime and Ireland didn’t regain the lead until the 64th minute with a rolling-maul try, off a lineout.

Samoa had their opportunities to grab the win but a penalty touch-finder went the wrong side of the corner flag and an attacking throw-in was knocked on.

Ireland were pushed to their limits by an on-fire Manu Samoa side. Andy Farrell’s side suffered an injury blow to veteran prop Cian Healy playing his 125th test match for Ireland. Healy has not been named in Farrell’s final squad.

The effort is sure to give the Manu a huge confidence boost going into the World Cup pooled with Argentina, England, Japan and Chile.

Samoa’s Co-Captain Michael Alaalatoa said you the effort from the boys cannot be faulted, but Ireland are the No 1 team in the world for a reason.

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“They were clinical when they needed to be. A lot to be proud of from our side but at the same time, a lot to learn.”

Irish head coach Andy Farrell said it was the first time his side had to regroup and find a way to come from behind.

“We played against a very good side today. Samoa, they’re a good side across the board, obviously very well coached and good players and we found a way, three tries to one, it’s pleasing to come away with a victory.”

Player Ratings by Planet Rugby

Big shifts

15 Duncan Paia’aua: The try scorer for Samoa on the night thanks to a ‘Falcon’ interception. Duncan made good metres and looked good with the ball in hand. He dealt with the high ball well in tricky conditions. 8

14 Ed Fidow: The conditions were difficult but Ed had some touches with ball in hand and off the boot that were not ideal. 6

13 Ulupano Seuteni: A very hard worker as always but given the conditions it was a difficult game for him to truly get into and make a marked influence. Still a decent shift and one to build on. 6

12 Tumua Manu: Possibly the best player in the backline tonight. He ran hard with ball in hand as the designated wrecking ball. Made a whopping 12 carries and good metres to match. Also 100% on defense. 9

Nigel Ah Wong: Similar to his wing partner. It was a difficult night to be in the back three and the left wing struggled for the most part to get into the game. 5

10 Lima Sopoaga: A very solid outing on his Samoa debut. The fly-half managed the game well in pouring rain conditions and put in some contestable kicks but overall brought awesome balance and control to the Manu. 8

9 Jonathan Taumateine: Absolutely influential for Samoa. He is the heartbeat of the side in many ways. Always busy and always managing the game. Kicked well for the most part and dealt with the conditions. Needs to have a big World Cup for his team to shine. 8

Working pack

8 Steven Luatua: Would have liked him on the ball a bit more but he was still solid throughout the clash and will always add class. A tricky game to shine in but a decent shift. 6

7 Fritz Lee: Tireless! The flank worked incredibly hard throughout making 11 tackles and carrying strongly as well. He was one of the key forwards on the day in a near win. 8

6 Taleni Seu: Matched his flank partner with an impressive outing typified by his boisterous run out of his 22 metre which could have led to a try. Massive influence on the game and was a key worker for Samoa. 7

5 Theodore McFarland: The Saracens man is class and even though he had five on his back he was an extra loose forward with his mobility in the loose. In the line-out Theo disrupted the Irish throw-ins and won good ball for Samoa. It was obvious before but McFarland is crucial for Manu Samoa’s World Cup prospects. 9

4 Chris Vui: Only managed half the game due to a failed HIA. Was neat enough during a rain-filled first half but an accurate rating cannot be applied. N/A

3 Paul Alo-Emile: Scrummed very powerfully during his time on the field and had the Irish pack going backwards! The tighthead was a key part of the first-half brilliance. 8

2 Seilala Lam: A tricky day to throw into the lineout and it showed but Seilala managed well for the most part. He made six tackles in a big shift. 6

1 James Lay: Like his prop teammate Lay put in a strong effort in the set-piece and very nearly gave the Manu a memorable win. 7

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