Bitter defeat ends Manu Samoa's World Cup campaign
Manu Samoa’s Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan has ended in bitter defeat against Ireland, 47-5, this morning.
But it’s not just the defeat that would hurt the team and this proud rugby nation.
The team’s campaign would be remembered for a number of embarrassing moments, perhaps none more embarrassing than Manu Samoa’s inability to take advantage of an Ireland team that played with 14 men for three quarters of the game.
A campaign that started out so promisingly for Coach Vaeluaga Steve Jackson and his team, with Samoa being placed in one of the best pools it has had in the World Cup, will now be remembered as one of the worst campaigns ever.
A lone victory over Russia is all they have to show for their efforts. They failed to register a point against Scotland and they were soundly beaten by Japan last week.
Against Ireland, while not many people would predicted a win for Manu Samoa, many fans were hoping to see a strong finish.
Perhaps the 47-5 final score didn’t tell the full story as Manu Samoa said goodbye to the Rugby World Cup.
The performance, at times, was hearty and gutsy against heavyweights Ireland.
Irish second five Bundee Aki received a red card in the 29th minute, but his team still had too much class, and cashed in on a lopsided penalty count to claim victory
Ireland came in needing a bonus point win to secure a quarterfinal place, and seeking tries they turned down an early penalty shot at goal to put Manu into the corner.
Their line out maul drive couldn’t be stopped, with captain Rory Best getting Ireland’s first score in the fourth minute.
Seilala Lam received a yellow card soon after for what was deemed a high tackle on Cian Healy.
The Irishman dropped significantly going into the tackle, providing a mitigating factor, but Lam was still sinbinned for his shoulder making contact with Healy’s head.
Ireland doubled their lead in the ninth minute through prop Tadhg Furlong, as they kept the ball in tight after another strong lineout maul.
A penalty against the Irish scrum allowed the Manu to kick to touch inside Ireland’s 22 metre line, but James Ryan made a great play to nip in front of Chris Vui and steal the ball.
The Irish got it back into Samoa territory, and a slick run and pass from fullback Jordan Larmour set up Johnny Sexton to score in the 21st minute.
If the Manu were needing inspiration having played well for no reward, they got it from lock Kane Le’aupepe who made a huge break into the Irish half.
Ireland were penalised at the subsequent ruck when the tackler didn’t roll away, giving Manu a lineout inside 10 metres.
A couple of great one-off phases later skipper Jack Lam crashed over to score in the 25th minute.
Henry Taefu couldn’t convert, but Samoa had their foothold back into the game.
Ireland second five Bundee Aki received a straight red card a few minutes later, for a similar tackle to Seilala Lam’s only without the mitigating factor of the ball carrier ducking.
Ulupano Seuteni had to go for a head injury assessment because of the tackle, with Tusi Pisi replacing him at first five.
The Manu held possession for most of the next five minutes, but couldn’t get the ball into Ireland’s red zone.
Jack Lam was penalised for being off his feet at the ruck in the 36th minute, allowing Ireland to mount their own attack from 20 metres out.
They went through plenty of phases and were eventually held up over the line for a five metre attacking scrum.
Halfback Conor Murray passed to Sexton on the blindside and the first five dummied and went over for his second try, securing that crucial bonus point with the last play of the half.
Ireland made the first attacking foray of the second period as well, with a couple of penalties giving them back to back lineout mauls close to the Samoan goalline.
Manu’s defence was solid though, as they held Ireland up over the line for the second time in the match.
The Irish scrum dominated for a couple of penalties close to the line, and Jordan Larmour went in to score out wide in the 49th minute after they opted to tap.
Ireland piled on the pressure again, but the Samoan defence held strong as they stopped two lineout mauls and defended a lot of phases right on the goalline.
Repeat penalty offences saw TJ Ioane sinbinned in the 59th minute though, and Ireland kept the hammer down, being held up over the line once more.
They finally scored through number eight CJ Stander, having been shut out for the best part of 15 minutes with Samoa defending brilliantly inside their own 22 metre line.
Ireland were in again a few minutes later though, with Andrew Conway winning the race to a grubber in behind to dive on the ball in the in-goal area.
Manu came close to ending their tournament with a bang in the 75th minute, as referee Nic Berry awarded Piula Fa’asalele a try after a well-constructed lineout maul.
But the decision was overturned, and the try rubbed out for a double movement.