Wales survive Samoa scare
HAMILTON, 18 Sept. - Wales survived a scare from Samoa to emerge 17-10 victors in a fiercely contested Pool D clash on Sunday.
The islanders, who had won both previous Rugby World Cup encounters between the nations, looked likely to register a third when prop Anthony Perenise crashed over for a try on the stroke of half-time.
But wing Shane Williams struck back with a try in the last quarter to settle the nerves of the Welsh, who had lost to South Africa by a single point a week earlier.
After the match, Wales captain Sam Warburton emphasised the importance of the victory.
"We said before the game, if we lose, the chances are we're probably going home.
"We knew it was going to be immensely tough and Samoa immensely physical, so it was a very tough battle for us."
Praising wing Leigh Halfpenny, who replaced James Hook at half-time, Warburton added: "Leigh came on and added some great momentum and Shane (Williams) finished it off. If our backs get a sniff they're pretty handy."
Both sides showed an eagerness to run the ball in the bruising encounter at Waikato Stadium.
In the eighth minute Samoa were unlucky not to get on the scoreboard when number 8 George Stowers knocked on as he tried to touch down following a destructive drive at a five-metre scrum.
Wales coach Warren Gatland's plans suffered an early setback when Andy Powell had to replace flanker Danny Lydiate, who injured his right ankle in the 10th minute.
But Wales rallied and almost immediately took the lead when Hook slotted a penalty from in front of the posts after a high tackle on fly half Rhys Priestland.
Samoa responded with a Paul Williams penalty midway through the half.
The Wales scrum began to gain the upper hand and when the Samoans were penalised for collapsing after 26 minutes Hook was again on target to make it 6-3, despite losing his footing as he made his kick.
Samoa felt aggrieved not to get a try after half an hour when Maurie Faasavalu was penalised for a double movement on the Wales line.
But they got their reward when Perenise crashed over after some sustained pressure.
Priestland narrowed the gap to 10-9 straight after the break with a long-range penalty that bounced on the cross bar before going over.
With full back Hook not returning to the field after half-time, Wales were without their most potent attacking influence.
But Priestland put the Welsh back in front with a penalty before Williams rounded off a breakout to make the score 17-10.
Despite some committed attacking by the Samoans in the last 10 minutes, Welsh defence held firm for the win, which leaves them in third place in their pool.
Wales coach Warren Gatland, who celebrated his 48th birthday on Saturday, said after the match: "I was asked what do I want for my birthday and I said I wouldn't mind beating Samoa.
"It's just good to show people how much it means to us to get what we need - to get a 'W' on the board."
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