Wales winger Steffan Evans scored two second-half tries to secure a hard-fought 19-17 win over Samoa in Apia on Friday.
Having trailed by 10 points early on, and then by three heading into the latter stages of this clash, Wales will breathe a considerable sigh of relief after salvaging a narrow victory in what was their first encounter against Samoa since 2012. It also served as Wales’ first-ever Test win on Samoan soil.
With Samoa playing host to an extremely inexperienced Welsh side, who had lost several star players to the British & Irish Lions squad, it was always likely to be a competitive affair in Apia.
Despite the fact that Samoa had suffered a humbling 78-0 loss to the All Blacks last weekend, the islanders started with real intent, and went over to score as early as the seventh minute when winger Alapati Leiua dotted down in the corner.
Flyhalf Tusi Pisi extended that advantage with a three-pointer soon after, but Wales gradually worked their way into the match, with flyhalf Sam Davies slotting his third penalty just before half-time to reduce the deficit to a solitary point at the break.
Although it appeared as if Wales might take control from there, especially when Evans scored soon after the restart to put the visitors into the lead for the first time in the match, Samoa hit straight back through hooker Maatulimanu Leiataua.
That score enabled Samoa to cling on to a 17-14 lead heading into the final quarter, with the tension building as both Davies and Pisi missed long-range penalty attempts.
However, Wales eventually struck the decisive blow when some lovely interpassing enabled Evans to go over to complete his brace in the 74th minute, with the visitors hanging on to to clinch a thrilling win from there.
Samoa – Tries: Alapati Leiua, Maatulimanu Leiataua. Conversions: Tusi Pisi (2). Penalty: Pisi.
Wales – Tries: Steffan Evans (2). Penalties: Sam Davies (3).
Samoa – 15 D’Angelo Leuila, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 David Lemi (c), 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotualii, 8 Fata Alafoti Faosiliva, 7 Galu Taufale, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Faatiga Lemalu, 4 Chris Vui, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Maatulimanu Leiataua, 1 Viliamu Afatia.
Subs: 16 Seilala Lam, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Bronson Fotualii-Tauakipulu, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Vavae Tuilagi, 21 Dwayne Polataivao, 22 Henry Taefu, 23 Tila Mealoi.
Wales – 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Cory Allen, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jamie Roberts (c), 11 Steffan Evans, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Nicky Smith.
Subs: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Scott Williams.