A welcome return of Sunday afternoon rugby to Sydney saw the visiting Samoan side take on the Wallabies at Olympic Park.
An early penalty to Samoa for Sekope Kepu being offside at a kick allowed Tusi Pisi take first points from halfway, 3-0 to Samoa.
The Wallabies won a series of penalties on Samoa’s 22, each time opting for a lineout and allowing Samoa’s well structrured defence to shine by keeping ot the home side.
After 10 minutes of pressure, the Samoans turned the ball over on their 22, and shifted it wide to Alesana Tuilagi who motored down the side line, embarrassing Matt Giteau on his way to a try under the posts. 10-zip to the visitors!
15 Minutes in and the Wallabies again forego several high POS penalties for lineouts. A great pass from Sharpe set up a try, however Mark Gerrard delivered a shocking last pass to Rod Davies who fumbled it into the corner flag while getting smoked by Alesana Tuilagi.
The next kickable penalties to the Wallabies resulted in a quick tap by Ben McCalman that didn’t leave his hands, a real coach killer with our full arm penalty rightly converted to Samoa’s short arm penalty.
Another penalty was won by the Wallabies, this one on halfway and this time we had Giteau kick for poles. This kick missed, and it’s still 10-zip to Samoa.
Towards the 30 minute mark the Wallabies were really struggling at the breakdown with many turnovers going the way of the visitors. This allowed Samoa to build pressure and a charge-down of a Nick Phipps kick led to Samoa’s second try by Paul Williams.
Samoa received a final final warning for slowing down the ball on their 5 metre line, from the penalty the Wallabies took a scrum and shaped for a pushover try. It was looking to be a good move when Phipps pulled the ball out and succumbed to pressure from his opposite numbers.
The reset scrum saw the Wallabies under pressure and Phipps did well to clean it up. A series of pick and drives saw our forwards hammering it up against a blue wall and a steady string of warnings from Jonker ignored by the Samoans. The inevitable yellow card was pulled, with Samoan lock Daniel Leo getting a break.
Another scrum and the Wallabies’ set piece was immense against the 7-man Samoan outfit. Clean ball to Digby and he carved through the last line of defence to score under the posts making it 17-7 with 2 minutes to play.
Last play of the half and the Wallabies force a lineout on the Samoan 22. Samoa’s throw was long and Phipps cleaned up at the back, made a good run and was cleaned up by Paul Williams who neglected to use his arms in a crunching tackle.
Giteau converted the penalty to take the Wallabies into oranges down 10–17.
For a team that spent 42% of the first half in Samoa’s 22, the Wallabies will be looking to turn territory and posession into points in the second half.
The second half started with a flourish from the Samoans who managed to get into the Wallabies’ pass and but for some great defence by Sekoope Kepu would have scored early in the second half.
A knock-on got the Wallabies out of trouble, and after running it up for several phases in our own 22 Giteau kicked it to the Samoan fullback who ran it back. Samoa put on several good phases of attack and a defensive misread by Digby opened up the left wing for Kane Thomson. Samoa now leading 22-13.
Around the 50-minute mark Robbie went to his bench and Beau Robinson made his Wallaby debut and Dan Vickerman also returned to gold. The Samoans continued to have the better of physical exchanges and a chip and chase had them score their fourth try. 29-13 to the visitors.
Time for Plan B and Robbie bought on Kurtley Beale who slotted in at 10. With immediate effect our backline started to click, and suddenly we were breaking the Samoan line with ease. Soon we were back into Samoa’s half and when the penalty came we kicked it, this time. 29-16.
At the 60-minute mark the Wallabies were still two converted tries short, setting this match up for a thrilling finish.
A quick stats update from @ruckinggoodstats – The Wallabies had lost/turned over the ball 17 times to the Samoans’ 10, Wallabies have conceded 3 penalties to Samoa’s 10.
Samoa again threatened and Davies’s slip over the line earnt the Samoans a penalty and again they were 3 scores clear at 32-16.
Massive hits in defence from Samoa gave more penalties to the Wallabies, with 15 to play we took a lineout on their 5 metre line. The ball was won but popped out giving Samoa the throw.
At the 70-minute mark and still at 32-16 the rain started to fall and the crowd started streaming out! Kurtley continued to run things from 10 and got us towards the Samoan 22. A bounce pass from Giteau out to Higginbotham who chipped and chased put Giteau over at the side. 32-23 with 8 minutes to play.
The Samoans really started to believe and their defensive effort in the last 10 minutes tripled. Massive hits were put on Genia, Davies, Kurtley and many more.
Two minutes to play and the Wallabies find themselves 9 points down in their own half. Samoa regain the ball and a series of pick and drives winds down the clock. Ecstatic scenes from the visitors and their fans as Samoa claim their first victory over Australia.
Samoa 32, Wallabies 23