Not to be for spirited Samoa
MATCH REPORT: Samoa finally delivered the performance at the World Cup that everyone had been waiting for but it was not to be as they fell just short of England by 17-18 in Lille on Saturday.
Samoa was quick out of the blocks, immediately on the attack and showing their intent, having to win heavily with a bonus point to retain any hope of qualifying.
But after ten minutes it was England on the scoreboard as Ollie Chessum crossed the whitewash. Farrell could not convert as England took an early 5-0 lead.
A successful penalty goal by Farrel just before the clock struck 20 minutes stretched Englands’ lead to 8-0.
With this penalty, Farrell became England’s record points scorer with 1,181 points.
And then the big Samoan wing Nigel Ah-Wong showed a lot of skill and strength to finish off a promising move after an interception. The successful conversion narrowed the gap to 7-8 for Samoa sending the message that it was game on!
Ah-Wong followed this try up with a sterling piece of footwork, dotting down after securing a high kick, showing superhuman technique to put the ball down just before both him and the ball went out of the in-goal area.
Another successful conversion by Lima Sopoaga took Samoa into the lead 14-8 after half an hour of play.
It was a blue wave as Samoa overpowered England in all aspects of the game while two tries were not given.
Contrary to what everyone thought it was Samoa that went into the half-time in front.
Samoa was full of running and it was only a try saving tackle by George Ford who got back to make the tackle on Duncan Paia’aua as the fullback went full throttle to get their fourth try.
The second half was much the same as the first with Samoa attacking from all angles and England scrambling to keep them at bay.
Sopoaga was vying for the man of the match award as he directed the Samoan attack with accurate precision, sending his backs into gaps and an accurate goal kicking performance.
England, who have beaten Samoa in all eight previous meetings, ate more points as Samoa kicked an easy penalty to open the gap to 17-8.
After 50 minutes Ford was replaced by the live wire Marcus Smith.
And then the handbags came out as Englands’ frustration boiled over as Chessum failed to get his second try.
A TMO decision confirmed that it was not a continuous movement by the lock.
But Farrell kicked for the corner and England was on the attack again after an hour of play.
The Roses won the lineout, Chessum was driving with his pack on his back, but somehow Samoa again turned possession around.
A forward pass denied England their second try but an off the ball tackle by Samoa offered Farrell an opportunity to get some points on the board, the first for them in the second half through a penalty kick.
Samoa 17 England 11 with 20 minutes to go.
Farrell let the shot clock run down too far as he aimed for a penalty goal and he was out of time before slotting his penalty over as they could have closed the gap to six points again – the first player to be beaten by the clock.
Just as Samoa thought they were on the way to making World Cup history by getting their first win over England, Tumua Manu got his marching orders for repeated offences.
Englands’ Danny Care sniped towards the try-line, close to the posts, winning an advantage and then Jonny May dropped the ball.
England decided on a scrum in front of the posts with their numerical advantage.
The scrum crabbed to the right and they could not control the ball.
Three more scrums ensued, Samoa with 14 players on the field, and then Care finally ran through untouched.
Samoas’ dreams were slowly being shattered as England took the lead in the 72nd minute by 18-17.
Samoa decided to play it tight in the last five minutes, keeping it close to the forwards as they inched towards the England 22’, but then the ball was lost.
Their last chance came a minute before full-time as the ball was given air but again it was lost forward.
More answers for Samoa than for England in this encounter as the Polynesian showed a spirited performance.
With this win England finished Pool D with four wins from four.
Man of the Match: Lima Sopoaga for his brave performance, guiding Samoa to their two tries as well as his accurate goal kicking.
Tries: Chessum, Care
Pens: Farrell 2
Tries: Ah Wong 2
Cons: Sopoaga 2
Yellow card: Tumua Manu (Samoa – 65’ for repeated offences)
England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Joe Marchant, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Martin, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Danny Care, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Ollie Lawrence
Samoa: 15 Duncan Paia’aua, 14 Nigel Ah-Wong, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Danny Toala, 11 Neria Fomai, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Fritz Lee, 6 Theo McFarland, 5 Brian Alainu’u’ese, 4 Sam Slade, 3 Michael Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Sama Malolo, 1 Jordan Lay
Replacements: 16 Seilala Lam, 17 James Lay, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sootala Fa’aso’o, 20 Alamanda Motuga, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 Christian Leali’ifano, 23 Miracle Faiilagi
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)