Rugby World Cup: Don't write us off yet, Samoa captain says

By David Leggat

Samoan Maurie Faasavalu pushes through Wales no.8 Toby Faletau. Photo / Christine Cornege
Samoan Maurie Faasavalu pushes through Wales no.8 Toby Faletau. Photo / Christine Cornege

Samoan captain Mahonri Schwalger asked referee Alain Rolland to check upstairs after denying his team a try against Wales yesterday.

So significantly did hooker Schwalger rate the moment flanker Maurie Fa'asavalu was penalised for a double movement before halftime that he reckoned "it might have been the turning point of the game".

"I asked the ref to go to the TMO. That was pretty harsh. There were a few things the ref was pretty harsh on us with," Schwalger said last night.

"Some things you can't win. All we've got to do now is move on."

The notion of that as a turning point may have been a stretch; Samoa had already squandered a couple of early scoring chances.

Their management acknowledged they didn't play as well as they could.

"We had plenty of ball. We had our chances but didn't take them," assistant coach Aussie McLean said.

That now means Wales are sitting pretty, provided they beat Namibia next Monday and Fiji back in Hamilton in a fortnight, with Samoa having to face defending champions South Africa late next week at North Harbour.

On that prospect, Samoan faces were brave last night but there was just a hint of knowing that they may have blown their quarter-final ambitions.

"Don't write us off yet. We've still got a chance," Schwalger said.

McLean used a bit of neat logic to put Samoa's case, too.

"They [South Africa] probably should have lost to Wales, and we gave Wales a bit of a hurry up, so we think we'll be competitive," he said.

Wales coach Warren Gatland, back on the ground he graced in Waikato's colours for a decade, was delighted to see substantial support for his team, which he put down partly to a reflection on their determined display against South Africa a week earlier. He made it clear that he will return home, but not before his present deal with Wales runs out, which is in 2015.

"I've got an Irish friend who says 'a savage loves his native shores'," he said, clearly concurring with the sentiment.

Part of his eagerness to stay in Wales is that seven of the 22 players in yesterday's squad are 22 or under.

"You can see the potential in this team," he said.

Wales made 142 tackles yesterday, 44 more than their opponents, and their defensive duties were performed resolutely.

"I don't think you could fault the attitude of the players," captain Sam Warburton said.

"There was no panic at halftime. As long as we kept the ball, were patient and didn't try and force anything, the points would come."

They have injury concerns over fullback James Hook (shoulder) and flanker Dan Lydiate (rolled ankle).

As for their cup fate, Gatland said: "It's in our hands, isn't it?"

- NZ Herald

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