Gatland's Men in Fine Shape after Samoa Power to This Convincing Win

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 26, 2011 | Go to article overview

Gatland's Men in Fine Shape after Samoa Power to This Convincing Win


Andy Howell at Eden Park, Auckland FIJI SAMOA 7TRY: Talei CON: Luveniyali 27 TRIES: Fotuali''i, Stowers CON: Williams PENS: G Pisi (4) DROP GOAL: G Pisi Team: K Murimurivalu; V Goneva, G Lovobalavu, S Bai (J Valivuli 53, T Tuapati 75)), N Nalaga; N Little (W Luveniyali 58), N Kenatale (V Buatava 65); C Ma''afu, S Koto, D Manu (capt) (S Somoca 63), S Kalou (R Nasiga 65), L Nakarawa, N Talei, S Koyamaibole, M Ravulo (A Qera 56).

Team: P Williams; S Tagicakibau, G Pisi (E Fuimaono-Sapolu 53), S Mapusua, A Tuilagi; T Pisi (J Sua 63), K Fotuali''i; S Taulafo, M Schwalger (capt) (T Paulo 69-74), C Johnston (A Perenise 53), D Leo, K Thompson (F Levi 63), T Tuifu''a, G Stowers, M Fa''asavalu (M Salavea ht).

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand) Attendance: 60,327 WARREN GATLAND got his wish when Samoa powered their way to a convincing World Cup victory over Fiji yesterday.

Assuming Wales carried out their part of the bargain and piled up the points against chopping blocks Namibia in New Plymouth early today, they would be in plum position to finish in the top two of PoolDto secure a place in the quarter-finals.

Coach Gatland hopes the psychological damage incurred by a dreadful and demoralised Fiji in front of a 60,327 crowd at Auckland's Eden Park will work in favour of his side.

Fiji can still qualify for the last eight, but are rank outsiders.

Bonus-point victories over Namibia and Fiji would result in Wales finishing the so-called group of death with 15 points.

Samoa could finish on that figure while leaders South Africa can attain 20. The most Fiji can reach is 10.

However, there are a number of scenarios which could occur. The first is if Samoa achieve an unlikely bonus-point victory over the world champion Springboks in Auckland on Friday night.

If South Africa failed to pick up a losing bonus point and Wales finish on 15, Gatland's men would join Samoa in the last eight.

But, should the Springboks get a point, the group would be decided on points difference, hence the importance of Wales emulating South Africa and taking Namibia to the cleaners to create a buffer between them and Samoa If Wales and Samoa ended up on 14 with South Africa, points difference would again be the determining factor.

A losing bonus point for the Springboks would take them to 15, meaning Wales would go through as runner-up because the criteria for deciding a tie between two countries is the result of the game between them.

The other possibility is Wales, Samoa and Fiji all finishing on 10. Then it would be down to points difference. Confused, concerned? Don't be because, after watching Fiji, I'd expect Wales to pulverise them up front and run in a few tries.

And Wales would know exactly what they have to do because their match with Fiji takes place 48 hours after the clash between South Africa and Samoa.

So the ball is in Gatland's court.

Provided they weren't victims of the biggest upset in union history against Namibia, a quarter-final place is Wales' to lose.

Samoa's pack won it against Fiji, demolishing them at the scrum and dominating the breakdown.

Both their tries came from Ospreys-bound players, scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i and No. 8George Stowers. Full-back Paul Williams kicked a conversion, while fit-again outside-half Tusi Pisi put over four penalties and a drop goal for a 15-point haul.

All shell-shocked Fiji could muster was a late try from blindside flanker Netani Talei, converted by replacement Sedre Luveniyali.

Samoa went three-points up through outside-half controller Tusi Pisi, who had missed the clash with Wales because of a hamstring injury, in the fifth minute.

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