WITH SUCH A narrow pool of competing nations in rugby, the most surprising statistic in Ireland’s past meetings with Manu Samoa is the lack of them.
Now ranked one place ahead of Ireland in the IRB rankings, Samoa have faced Ireland just five times, so we’ve thrown our encounter with Pacific Islands into the mix too.
Here’s how the half dozen Tests have gone.
1. Ireland 49- 22 Samoa, October 29 1988.
The first meeting between the sides brought a convincing win for Ireland as they scored eight tries to the visitors’ four.
Denis McBride, Philip Matthews, Neil Francis, Keith Crossan (twice), Michael Kernan, Brendan Mullin and John Sexton all crossed the whitewash. Sexton added a drop-goal while Kernan provided two penalties and four conversions from the centre.
2. Ireland 25 – 40 Samoa, November 12 1996.
In his fourth cap for Ireland, David Humphreys could not guide Ireland past Samoa and the visitors would claim their only win against Ireland, scoring five tries in the process.
Winger James Topping hit hard by Earl Va’a and Sene Ta’ala. Billy Stickland/INPHO
Paul Wallace scored Ireland’s only try, the rest of the points coming via Simon Mason’s conversion and six penalties.
3.Ireland 35- 8 Samoa, November 11 2001.
We were back to winning ways in the 21st century with another glut of tries (by irish standards at least). Afato So’oialo grounded for the visitors just as he had done in ’96, but that was the Pacific nation’s only try.
Jeremy Staunton (fullback), Geordan Murphy (wing), Tyrone Howe and Frankie Sheahan crossed for Ireland with Ronan O’Gara converting three of them to compliment his three penalties.
4. Samoa 14 – 40 Ireland, June 20 2003.
A Ronan O’Gara tour-de-force characterised Ireland’s only away meeting with Samoa. Apia was the backdrop for O’Gara’s 32 points – two tries, five penalties, two conversions and a drop-goal – a record haul for an Irish player which still stands.
Eric Miller and Paul Burke provided the stray eight points.
5. Ireland 61 – 17 Pacific Islands, November 26 2006.
Nine Samoans featured in the Pacific Islands squad which lost the final international at Lansdowne Road.
Paddy Wallace starred for Ireland, winning his first start at out-half and providing 26 points.
Jamie Heaslip, Luke Fitzgerald and Stephen Ferris also won their first cap that day. Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie, Malcolm O’Kelly, Paul O’Connell and Simon Easterby joined Wallace in the ‘tries scored’ column,
6. Ireland 20 – 10 Samoa, November 13 2010.
The new Lansdowne brought the return of Samoa, but another collection of Ronan O’Gara scores helped Ireland dig out the win.
Ireland led 13 – 7 at half time thanks to Jamie Heaslip’s try, but by the hour mark Samoa were within a kick again, bute O’Gara’s 66th minute snipe kept the visitors at arm’s length.