David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: Mighty Samoa send Cup warning

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Captain Mahonri Schwalger leads Samoa in a war dance as they celebrate victory. Photo / Getty Images
Captain Mahonri Schwalger leads Samoa in a war dance as they celebrate victory. Photo / Getty Images

A dollar for the thoughts of Warren Gatland and his Welsh chums today.

It's easy to imagine the amiable "Gatty" and his players whipping out their World Cup schedule, running a finger down the page until they reached an entry reading: 'Sunday, September 18, 3.30pm Wales v Samoa, Waikato Stadium', and gulped a quiet "uh oh" into their pints of Brains.

Yesterday's events were certainly not in Robbie Deans' manuscript on "Ideal World Cup Preparation".

He put out a well below-full-strength Wallaby team against Samoa. Did Australia take Samoa lightly? Would Deans have made a stronger selection if he had his time again? So many questions, but it's all irrelevant now that Samoa have knocked pre-World Cup chatter into a cocked hat.

Their rousing performance in giving Australia a decent going-over will have shaken Wallaby optimism based in part, rather shakily, on the Super 15 heroics of the Reds.

Samoa were terrific. They threw themselves into their work, bruised a few Wallaby bones as well as egos and showed that they are tuning up just fine for the big show starting in 53 days' time. As ever, get them on a roll and you've got problems.

The object of these games, including the All Blacks' run against Fiji in Dunedin on Friday night, is to run through the playbook and come away with plenty of ticks in the positives column. Deans will have jotted down precious few last night.

Samoa have form for this. Remember the 1991 World Cup, when they turned over, oh yes, Wales, at their national stadium.

Pool D is suddenly alive with possibilities. South Africa, Samoa, Fiji, Wales and Namibia. This won't be viewing for the faint-hearted.

As for Australia? They need to regroup fast. South Africa are in Sydney this week.

Play down the significance of the Tri-Nations this season, with all its managerial foxing, by all means. But in 80 rumbustious minutes yesterday it suddenly became rather more important for Deans and Co.

- NZ Herald

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