By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 12/11/13
Samoa have finished second in Group B and earned a quarter-final against Fiji after a fiery 22-6 victory over France in Perpignan.
In what was the most brutal 40 minutes of the World Cup, Samoa tried to literally bash the French off the Stade Gilbert Brutus turf. They tested the referee’s patience several times with numerous late tackles and cheap shots on France’s playmakers. A handful of Samoans went on report and eventually Mose Masoe went to the bin for 10 minutes for the team’s repeated infringements.
The teams were drawn 6-6 at half-time but Samoa managed to increase its composure and work hard in defence to overpower their opponents after their break. Toa Samoa scored three tries in the second stanza to bypass a quarter-final with England and book a match-up with Fiji instead.
Both teams were up for this one but it was the Samoans who started brighter, Daniel Vidot touching down for an easy try in the right corner just three minutes in after some creativity from Ben Roberts.
France came back at Samoa, who had Tony Puletua in their side, but struggled to find a hole.
In the 12th minute Leeson Ah Mau was penalised and put on report for a shoulder charge on France’s Barthau. Less than a minute later Barthau was smashed again, this time late and by Sauaso Sue, and he was also put on report. Tempers were rising massively and then eight minutes later France bombed a certain try when Frederic Vaccari and Jean-Philippe Baile clumsily collided and knocked on with a try there for the taking.
On 25 minutes Masoe was in the sin bin for a shoulder charge on Thomas Bosc and the Catalan crowd was baying for his blood.
Then Morgan Escare, easily France’s best player on the night, made the most of the extra man to show brilliant footwork and tie the game up with a great try.
In the second half Samoa went up a gear, reined the dirty stuff in and displayed an outstanding effort in defence.
Five minutes into the second period Anthony Milford showed exactly why he is one of the most exciting and saught-after young talents in the NRL, stepping three defenders in a row to cross for a fantastic solo try.
Eleven minutes later Baile was over the line but Anthony Winterstein ripped it out before he could ground it.
Samoa’s Sue was put on report at the 57-minute mark for tripping but France could not make the most of a series of penalties and premium field position. Pita Godinet then put the game out of the French’s reach three minutes later after barging over from a smart offload BJ Leilua.
France kept attacking, with Sebastain Raguin cut down centimetres from the line by a telling Ah Mau tackle, but they lacked a killer edge. Samoa got the final score six minutes from the end with Junior Moors powering over for short range.
France now have the tough assignment of facing England in Wigan on Saturday. Samoa get an extra’s day rest to prepare for Fiji in Warrington but will now have a nervous wait for the judiciary, as it could be without the services of several key players for the match at Halliwell Jones Stadium.
France 6, Tries: Escare, Goals: Bosc.
Samoa 22, Tries: Moors, Vidot, Godinet, Milford, Goals: Milford (3).