Manu Samoa brave but Wallabies prevail
The Manu Samoa will be heading to the Rugby World Cup with confidence, despite losing to the Wallabies in their final preparation match.
The men in blue fought back in the second half, but lost 34-15 to the Wallabies at Bankwest Stadium, Sydney, on Saturday night.
Australia opened the scoring inside eight minutes after a bad error from a Manu defensive line out.
Motu Matu’u overthrew the ball and it landed in the grateful arms of David Pocock, and after a couple of phases going left they came back to lock Adam Coleman who scored in the corner.
Bernard Foley couldn’t convert, but the Wallabies doubled their lead just seven minutes later.
Man of the match, Marika Koroibete, ran through a couple Manu players and around a few more, showing superb power and pace to get Australia’s second try.
Tusi Pisi had a chance to stem the bleeding not long after, when a good tackle from Reynold Lee-lo let Belgium Tuatagaloa get over the ball and win a penalty for holding on.
But the first five couldn’t convert from 40 metres out on the angle, leaving Samoa down two scores still.
Afaesetiti Amosa gave his team life with a trademark burst from the back of a defensive scrum, leaving Wallabies in his wake.
The Manu built from there, Pisi setting the tempo with his passing.
Test debutant Michael Alaalatoa went over the line and thought he’d scored, but play was pulled back because Jordan Lay took David Pocock out past the ruck.
Samoa were under advantage though, and Pisi knocked over an easy penalty kick to make it 10-3 in the 29th minute.
But the Wallabies hit back immediately; Nanai-Williams couldn’t take the kickoff and a Matt To’omua grubber got Adam Ashley-Cooper Australia’s third try.
They had their fourth five minutes later through Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, and Bernard Foley made his first successful conversion to take Australia out to 22 points.
The Wallabies kept threatening right until halftime, and came close to scoring a few times but the Manu defence held.
They lost Scott Malolua to a nasty shoulder dislocation in the process though, and the debuting halfback had to be stretchered off the pitch.
The Manu opened the second half nicely, and the introduction of tighthead prop Paul Alo-Emile made an immediate impact.
He smashed the Wallabies scrum in his first act of the game to win a penalty, and another big scrum near the 22 metre line set a platform for Amosa to burst down the blindside and pass to Dwayne Polataivao for Samoa’s first try in the 53rd minute.
The substitute halfback had their second as well just eight minutes later.
Reynold Lee-Lo ran a fantastic line before feeding Ahsee Tuala, who drew the fullback and put Polataivao away.
But Dane Haylett-Petty fired back after the Wallabies forced a turnover inside the Manu 22 metre line, scoring an important try in the 71st minute.
Samoa came close to making it a grandstand finish inside the final five minutes, with Lee-Lo carrying hard over the 22 metre line.
Josh Tyrell thought he was in for a try, but play was rightly called back for a forward pass.
It was the Wallabies who had the last say, when a stunning inside ball from Nick Phipps opened Samoa up for Matt To’omua to score one phase later with time up.
Australia 34 (Adam Coleman, Marika Koroibete, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Dane Haylett-Petty, Matt To’omua tries; Bernard Foley 2/6 con)
Samoa 15 (Dwayne Polataivao 2 tries; Tusi Pisi 1/1 pen, 1/2 cons)