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Ireland hold on to defeat stubborn Samoa

Ireland hold on to defeat stubborn Samoa

Ireland hold on to defeat stubborn Samoa

Ireland were pushed all the way by a determined Samoa in Bayonne, eventually winning 17-13 in their final match before the Rugby World Cup

In dire conditions in the south of France, Ireland trailed at the break despite leading for the opening half an hour thanks to Jimmy O’Brien’s well-crafted try.

Samoa hit back with Duncan Paia’aua’s fortuitous score, before Lima Sopoaga’s boot either side of the break pulled them into a 13-7 lead.

Two unconverted second-half tries for Ireland from Conor Murray and then Rob Herring proved to be enough, although Samoa came very close to celebrating a famous win at the death.

Ireland began the better of the two sides, scoring a delightful try after nine minutes through O’Brien.

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Jack Crowley received the ball under pressure from Lima Sopoaga and somehow managed to get the ball wide with a pinpoint kick pass to Mack Hansen on the right wing.

He then selflessly passed inside to O’Brien, who slid in for his first score in Irish colours.

Ireland continued to create opportunities, but they were unable to find the key finish touch and the score remained 7-0 for the opening half an hour.

There was a worrying injury too for Andy Farrell, as Cian Healy was replaced after 25 minutes with what looked like an ankle injury.

That was hardly what Farrell wanted to see with the World Cup squad to be announced tomorrow but it would go from bad to worse for Ireland.

Again on the attack, an attempted miss pass struck Samoa full-back Duncan Paia’aua in the face and he kept his composure to scoop up the loose ball, sprint away and dive over to the delight of the crowd.

@autumnnationsseries“try is good – it hit him in the face!” 😂 solid header that♬ original sound – vibey music 🎶 🕺 🪩

Sopoaga nailed the conversion from the touchline and soon he would be putting his side into the lead, as Manu Samoa won a penalty at the scrum and the fly-half duly nailed the kick to put his side into a 10-7 lead at the break.

Seilala Mapusua’s side began the second period in the same way as the first, putting pressure on the Irish defensive line, before forcing another penalty right in front of the posts.

Sopoaga again succeeded from the tee and after 46 minutes, Samoa led 13-7.

Ireland are not the world number one side for nothing though and it would not be long before they found their way over the line.

Jacob Stockdale, who impressed on the left wing, put a chip over the top, which Murray chased well, before diving on the loose ball in the in-goal area.

Crowley was unable to add the extras but the Samoa lead had been reduced to 13-12.

 

@autumnnationsseriesStill got it 🔥♬ original sound – Chris Watson

Farrell made significant changes and they paid off almost immediately.

Ireland won a penalty at the scrum and did not hesitate when going to the corner and replacement hooker Rob Herring dotted down at the back of the driving maul to extend the lead to 17-13.

Ireland came back again, with wave after wave of attack on the Samoan try line but the Islanders refused to budge and held Ireland up on two occasions, eventually winning a penalty and clearing their lines.

Samoa came close at the end, twice winning penalties in the Ireland 22 but a missed kick for touch and then a lost lineout were missed opportunities and Hansen was able to boot clear.

Ireland played the clock down and kicked the ball out to claim the win, much to the relief more than anything of Farrell and his staff.

Samoa had given the world number one side an almighty scare and showed the rugby world their credentials heading to France, where they hope to make the knock-out stages for the first time since 1995.

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