Look out world, it's the Aussie-beating Samoans

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

It is one of international rugby's greatest upsets - 100-1 World Cup outsiders Manu Samoa crushing one of the favourites, Australia's Wallabies.

The small Pacific Island nation - population 180,000 - was celebrating hard last night after their team's 32-23 win in Sydney.

The celebrations were just as fervent in Auckland, where former Samoa captain Peter Fatialofa said: "I don't usually drink on Sunday, but I think I'm going to have one to celebrate."

Fatialofa, who captained Samoa in its first Rugby World Cup, in 1991, said the team had shown they were a force to be reckoned with in September.

"They're sending out a message to the other teams that they're a team to play. The good thing was that we made the win - it wasn't luck."

All Black great Michael Jones said: "I wish I was in Samoa tonight. It's going to be a great night in Apia and this will probably result in a public holiday over there. There's probably going to be a few Samoan flags around in Auckland [today]."

The victory - which reversed Australia's 74-7 trouncing of Samoa in their last meeting, at the same venue six years ago - is a setback for the Wallabies six days before they start their Tri Nations campaign against world champions South Africa.

It was the first time Manu Samoa had beaten the Wallabies.

The TAB has Samoa's odds of winning the World Cup at 100 to 1 and Australia at second-favourite, behind the All Blacks.

All Black great and NZ Rugby Union president Bryan Williams, whose son Paul is in the Samoan team and scored a try in yesterday's game, said he was "thrilled and so happy" about the result.

"I've had two very excited calls from my daughters, who were watching it ... It's a very proud day for Manu Samoa."

Williams said he would be eagerly waiting for a text from his son, a former student of Mt Albert Grammar, where Bryan Williams coaches rugby.

Auckland Blues coach Pat Lam, another former Manu Samoa captain, said it was a case of the Samoan team stepping up, rather than the Australian team playing badly.

"The thing with Samoan boys is when they get their pride on, it's over. They were tackling hard and flying into everything.

"They hammered Australia. It's a massive upset."

Samoa will play Wales, South Africa, Fiji and Namibia in their World Cup pool.

"Those teams are going to be watching this game," Lam said. " They're going to be looking out for Samoa now."

- NZ Herald

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