Wales toppled Samoa in a tight Pool D encounter marked by stingy defensive displays by both sides. A defensive master class from the Welsh contrasted with their spirited attack on display against South Africa but may have just booked their pathway to the quarterfinals and, barring major upsets, a potential clash with neighbours Ireland.
A see-sawing first half saw the score-line slowly progress through penalties for much of the half, Samoa in particular looking to utilise the power of their forward pack to shove through a young Welsh team. 22 of Samoa’s 28 pick and go attempts came in the first period with little success, Wales holding a 6-3 lead until the final minute of the half. Sustained Samoan pressure on the Welsh line eventuated in prop Anthony Perenise breaking through out wide to give the Islanders a deserved 10-6 lead.
Wales came out firing in the second half, earning themselves a penalty to close the gap to one early on. The scores remained unchanged until Wales took the lead in the 65th before extending it in thrilling fashion immediately afterwards. Substitute Leigh Halfpenny fielded the ball from kickoff, broke through three Samoan tacklers and flew down the pitch, combining with Jonathon Davies to bring Wales to within metres of the line before the ball dribbled to the ever-present Shane Williams to poach a brilliant try. Samoa desperately attacked but were unable to break open a Welsh team that completed 142 tackles in the duration of the match.
Samoa must now beat South Africa and Fiji to have a reliable chance of progressing into the next round, although in a pool that is very capable of surprise the Fijians hold the key to the final outcome. Wales must beat the Fijians and minnows Namibia for a chance at further glory; with results falling their way, Warren Gatland will target a semi-final appearance at the very least.