Match Preview: Wales – Samoa

The knowledge of Warren Gatland could prove pivotal as Wales face a dangerous Samoan team in what could quite possibly be the defining match in Pool D in Gatland’s home town of Hamilton, 3.15pm local time. The Welsh impressed against South Africa with a brave display of attacking rugby, but will have to shake their World Cup blues against a team they have failed to beat at a World Cup in two previous meetings. Samoa looked slick against Namibia after announcing themselves on the world stage, beating Australia in August as a wealth of European talent rejoined the team. With South Africa top of the pool, the match looms as one which neither team can afford to lose.

Genthin Jenkins makes the bench after missing the early stages of the Cup through injury; however Warren Gatland has kept faith with the same run-on XV ran South Africa so close. Young back row trio Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau belied their years to match South Africa at the breakdown and need a similar performance to set the platform for a strong backline. Jamie Roberts will be critical in matching the physical Samoan presence in the midfield after a virtuoso display against the champions, while James Hook and young Rhys Priestland will look to provide spark to an exciting backline.

Samoa have named Tusi Pisi at fly-half despite a hamstring injury which forced him from the field against Namibia. His combination with Kahn Fotuali’i in the halves is pivotal to a Samoan backline boasting the dangerous talents of Sailosi Tagicakibau and Alesana Tuilagi. George Stowers looked menacing against Namibia with ball in hand and will need lift his team against a Welsh pack that look superior on paper.

Players to watch:

Alesana Tuilagi is an easy choice after a busting display against Namibia saw him claim his first World Cup hat-trick.

James Hook had a mixed game against South Africa in his new position at fullback; however the playmaker looked sharp with ball in hand while his kicking ability will be a constant menace from the back.

Wales: 15 James Hook, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Bradley Davies, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Tavis Knoyle, 21 Scott Williams, 22 Leigh Halfpenny.
Samoa: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 George Pisi, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 George Stowers, 7 Maurie Fa’asavalu, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Daniel Leo, 4 Kane Thompson, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Mahonri Schwalger (c), 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Census Johnston, 18 Joe Tekori, 19 Taiasina Tuifu’a, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu, 22 Tasesa Lavea.