Samoa beat Italy 39-10 on Saturday to qualify for the 'final' of the quadrangular series, reports JON CARDINELLI, at the Mbombela Stadium.
Samoa thumped Scotland in Durban last week, and were far too strong for Italy in Nelspruit. The two consecutive wins see them advancing to the decider of the series in Pretoria next Saturday.
They got the better of Italy at the collisions and breakdowns, and unsurprisingly, they were willing to run the ball from all parts of the field.
However, they also opted to kick for goal when the game was still in the balance, and it was because of one such penalty goal (as well as a converted try by Paul Williams) that they went to the break with a 10-3 lead.
Italy's effort declined as the match progressed. They had fought hard against the Springboks last week, and had kept the much fancied hosts quiet for nearly 40 minutes of the game. Unfortunately, on this occasion, they were neither determined nor accurate, and failed to contain a Samoa backline that was in the mood to run.
Wing Alapati Leiua scored right after the break to increase Samoa's lead to 15-3. A counter-attack from deep within Samoa territory resulted in Johnny Leota receiving the ball in space, and the centre sprinted 60m to score.
Some good interplay between forwards and backs then culminated in a try for No 8 Taiasina Tuifua. This marked Samoa's fourth try, and with Williams's subsequent conversion, it was clear that the islanders were on their way to an emphatic bonus-point victory.
The Samoans lived up to their reputation as a fiercely physical side with a penchant for attack. But what will also please the Samoa coaches about this performance was the improvements on defence. It took 70 minutes before Italy were eventually awarded a penalty try.
Samoa – Tries: Paul Williams, Alapati Leiua, Johnny Leota, Taiasina Tuifua, Brando Va'aulu. Conversions: Williams (3), Ki Anufe. Penalties: Williams (2).
Italy – Try: Penalty try. Conversion: Alberto di Bernardo. Penalty: Luciano Orquera.
Samoa – 15 Brando Va'aulu, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Paul Williams (c), 12 John Leota, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusiata Pisi, 9 Jeremy Sua, 8 Taiasina Tuifua, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Daniel Leo, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Wayne Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Subs: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Logovii Mulipola, 18 James Johnston, 19 Kane Thompson, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Ki Anufe, 22 Seilala Mapusua, 23 Piula Faasalele.
Italy – 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Tommaso Iannone, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Valerio Bernabo, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Subs: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Antonio Pavanello, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Tobias Botes, 22 Alberto Di Bernardo, 23 Luke Mclean.
Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images
Hoskins’ exit overdue
Outgoing SA Rugby president Regan Hoskins failed to deliver on his promises during his 10-year tenure and his resignation is long overdue, writes JON CARDINELLI.
What we’ve learned
Five lessons from the past weekend's Super Rugby final, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
‘Faf was outstanding’
What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks' win over Argentina in Nelspruit.