SAMOA coach Stephen Betham admitted his side were not at their best as they beat the USA 25-16 in their World Cup Pool B clash in Brighton.
Tries from Tim Nanai-Williams and Ofisa Treviranus, plus 12 points from the boot of Tusi Pisi, secured a win which was unconvincing for a side with designs on a quarter-final place at least.
The Amex Stadium had barely stopped reverberating following Japan’s historic success over South Africa less than 24 hours earlier. That shock result has blown the pool wide open but Betham knows Samoa will have to improve if they are to take full advantage, starting against the wounded Springboks next weekend.
“We were hoping it would be more convincing but it was scrappy, we forced too many 50-50 passes, but we’ll take the win and move on from here,” he said.
“The errors made the game hard for us and we have a lot of tidying up to do before next weekend.
“But at least our discipline was good. We kept 15 players on the park for the first time in a while, and if we continue to keep 15 players on the park we will have a chance.”
Stand-off AJ MacGinty was the Americans’ star, playing a key role in skipper Chris Wyles’ first-half try and kicking six points. However, his missed conversion after Chris Baumann touched down under a heap of bodies late in the second half cost the USA a potential bonus point.
Coach Mike Tolkin was also left to rue the indiscipline which led to a costly penalty count against his side.
“One of the things in the plan is not to give away possession and in the first half we did that, and the penalty count contributed to that,” he said.
“With the pool being wide open after Saturday those bonus points could be important so it was disappointing not to take it.
“But there are positives. Chris Wyles’ try was outstanding and we were on the front foot a lot. We need to capitalise on that. Can we still make the quarter-finals? Absolutely. But we need to be more disciplined first and foremost. Our scrum and line-out weren’t operating so efficiently and we want to iron that out.”
Scorers: Samoa: Tries: Nanai-Williams, Treviranus. Pens: T. Pisi 4, Stanley. USA: Tries: Wyles, Baumann. Pens: MacGinty 2.
Samoa: Nanai-Williams, K. Pisi, Perez, Lee-Lo, A. Tuilagi, T. Pisi, Fotuali’i, Taulafo, Avei, Perenise, Paulo, Tekori, Faasavalu, Lam, Treviranus. Replacements: Autagavaia for A. Tuilagi (73), Stanley for T. Pisi (58), Johnston for Avei (53), Levave for Tekori (58), Faosiliva for Faasavalu (54). Not Used: Afatia, Matu’u, Afemai.
USA: Scully, Ngwenya, Kelly, Palamo, Wyles, MacGinty, Petri, Fry, Fenoglio, Lamositele, Smith, Peterson, McFarland, Durutalo, Manoa. Replacements: Thompson for Scully (55), Baumann for Lamositele (74), Dolan for Smith (51), Barrett for Peterson (58). Not Used: Thiel, Kilifi, S. Suniula, Niua.