Another disaster for Wales and Howley as Samoa triumph at Millennium Stadium – Wales 19 Samoa 26 Match Report
ANOTHER black day for Welsh rugby saw the national side humiliated by their old nemesis Samoa who completely destroyed them at the Millennium Stadium.
Had the visitors’ outside half Tusiata Pise had his kicking boots on – he squandered 13 points – it would have been reflected on the scoreboard.
Their old tactic of roughing up Wales worked wonders but what made this victory so significant for them was that they not only beat Wales in the set piece, but murdered them.
Woeful Wales used to rely on their superiority up front to get the upper hand on Samoa in the tight but the Pacific Islanders have made enormous strides.
It was Wales’ fifth defeat in a row, raising serious questions about this coaching staff in head coach Warren Gatland’s absence after he decided to take the Lions job for next year.
And with the All Blacks in town next weekend - and the prospect of six losses out of six - the Welsh Rugby Union might consider installing a cricket scoreboard for the number of points World Cup champions New Zealand could score.
Wales had a nightmarish start, taking Samoa all of 64 seconds to score after full back Fa’atoina Autagavaia crossed in the corner after No 8 Taiasina Tuifu’a, who played against Cross Keys for Newcastle in the British & Irish Cup last month, tore through the home defence after a missed tackle by tighthead Aaron Jarvis.
Tusiata Pisi’s excellent conversion made it 7-0 and Wales would have been further behind after nine minutes had he slotted a kickable penalty which wasn’t so easy peasy for the outside half.
A Leigh Halfpenny penalty after 15 minutes opened Wales’ account but they were dealt a blow soon after when in-form hooker Richard Hibbard left the field with a shoulder injury, replaced by Ken Owens.
Wales struggled to impose any real authority on an evenly balanced contest but Halfpenny’s second penalty, kicked in the 29th minute, reduced Samoa’s lead to 7-6.
Tusiata Pisi should have cancelled that out just seconds later when Wales gave away a stupid penalty from the restart for blocking, but he missed an easy shot at goal.
And the Samoa fly half was the villain again when his telegraphed pass found its way into Wales centre Ashley Beck’s hands, the Ospreys man running 75 metres for an interception try the home side desperately needed.
Halfpenny’s conversion gave Wales a 13-7 lead after 33 minutes they scarcely deserved.
Lock Teofilo Paulo was lucky to stay on the field in the 37th minute when he smashed Dan Biggar with his shoulder at a ruck, the Ospreys fly half covered in blood as he was led from the field, replaced by Rhys Priestland. There wasn’t even a penalty given against the second row.
To rub salt in the wounds, Tusiata Pisi got his first penalty, on his third attempt, with the last play of the first half which ended 13-10.
Wales had struggled to play with much, if any shape, the lineouts a disaster once again and the scrum far from impressive.
Lock Ian Evans didn’t come back onto the field in the second half, so becoming the third Osprey to retire with an injury, and was replaced by former Newport Gwent Dragon Luke Charteris.
The writing seemed to be on the wall for Wales for they were behind again in the 45th minute when centre George Pisi scored a cute try after Ospreys scrum half Kahn Fotuali’i carved up the home defence.
Tusiata Pisi couldn’t convert his brother’s touchdown, his effort again sailing wide.
A monster penalty by Halfpenny restored Wales’ lead to 16-15 and they could have increased it had Priestland not criminally wasted a huge overlap, the fly half kicking the ball dead from over 50 metres to sum up his side’s attacking ineptitude.
Tusiata Pisi’s penalty nosed Samoa ahead in the 57th minute, Halfpenny missing an easy attempt just a matter of seconds later from the restart.
Openside flanker Maurie Fa’asavalu gave away a silly penalty for half-strangling Owens, Halfpenny making no mistake to edge Wales ahead 19-18.
Wales were getting beaten up all over the field, the scrum disintegrating under their posts for Tusiata Pisi to slot over a simple three points for a 21-19 lead.
Scrum half Mike Phillips was guilty of butchering a great chance of a Wales try when he chose to ignore a huge overlap from a ruck on the Samoa line.
Replacement Johnny Leota, no relation of Goodfella’s Ray I think, got Samoa’s third try after Halfpenny failed to gather a kick ahead.
Wales: L Halfpenny, A Cuthbert, A Beck, J Roberts, G North, D Biggar (R Priestland 37) M Phillips, P James (G Jenkins 61), R Hibbard (K Owens 17), A Jarvis (S Andrews 77), B Davies, I Evans (L Charteris 40), R Jones (capt) (Sam Warburton 71), J Tipuric, T Faletau.
Replacements: T Knoyle, S Williams Wales scorers: Try – Ashley Beck, Conversion – Leigh Halfpenny, Pens – L Halfpenny (4) Samoa: F Autagavaia, P Perez, G Pisi, P Williams, D Lemi (capt), T Pisi, K Fotuali’i, S Taulafo, O Avei, C Johnston, D Leo, T Paulo, O Treviranus, M Fa’asavalu, T Tuifua.
Replacements: T Paulo, V Afatia, J Johnston, I Tekori, T Foma’i, J Su’a, J Leota, R Lilomaiava.
Samoa scorers: Tries – Fa’atoina Autagavaia, George Pisi, Johnny Leota, Conversions – Tusiata Pisi, Penalties – T Pisi (3)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Argus star man: Kahn Fotuali’i