Samoa too strong for PNG in qualifier
Samoa took a giant step towards securing Oceania's qualifying spot at Rugby World Cup 2011 with an impressive 115-7 victory over Papua New Guinea at Apia Park on Saturday.
The overwhelming favourites to secure the Oceania 1 berth and a place in Pool D with defending champions South Africa, Wales, Fiji and the Africa 1 qualifier scored 17 tries in the first leg.
Papua New Guinea were only too well aware of the huge task facing them after beating Cook Islands in the Oceania Cup final last weekend, but kept battling bravely against their more experienced opponents.
The visitors to the Samoa capital enjoyed a start they could only have dreamed of when wing Roland Namo touched down in the first minute with Jack Maraha's conversion giving Papua New Guinea a 7-0 advantage.
Within minutes, though, Samoa were level through flanker Semo Sititi's try and by the time the half hour mark had arrived the hosts were leading 56-0 with wing Esera Lauina (2), Gavin Williams (2), full back Titi Esau, captain George Stowers and flanker Ofisa Treviranus all crossing the whitewash.
Historic occasion awaits
Sevens star Uale Mai scored his side's ninth try to make it 63-7 at the interval, but despite ringing the changes there was no let up from Samoa in the second half with a further eight tries put on the board.
Replacement hooker Andrew Williams crossed first within minutes of the restart with Lauina next to complete his hat-trick, Gavin Williams kicking the conversion for the latter to take his personal tally to 30 points in the match.
Three other replacements got their names on the scoreboard in Mikaele Pesamino, Reupena Levasa and Ernest Skelton with Andrew Williams claiming his second and Fosi Palaamo touching down before Lauina crossed for his fourth try of the day.
The two sides will come together for the second leg in Port Moresby next Saturday in what will be an historic occasion with a fully-fledged Samoan national side playing in Papua New Guinea for the first time.