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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 4 March 2021
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Welcome! We’ve just had an epic Pacific dance battle. We’re ready to go!

Penalty for Samoa! Nice start for Samoa! Pisi splits the posts with his opening effort.

Samoa 3-0 Fiji

Samoa are denied a try after the TMO judged the ball to have been held up on the line! No matter, though Pisi pops the ball over for another penalty two minutes later.

Samoa 6-0 Fiji

Another score from Samoa! This time it’s a drop goal, and again, it comes from Pisi. Samoa are very much on top, dominating in the contact areas.

Samoa 9-0 Fiji

Tusi Pisi, who’s been flawless so far, leaves a huge penalty a distance short of the posts, but there’s no respite for Fiji, who very nearly shoot themselves in the foot from the restart.

Kenatale dallies while trying to shepherd the ball out of play, very nearly allowing Alesana Tuilagi to go over in the left corner. The TMO says the wing didn’t get his hands to it, but it was close…

By the way…

Fiji: Murimurivalu, Goneva, Lovobalavu, Bai, Nalaga, Little, Kenatale; Ma’afu, Kotu, Manu, Kalou, Nakarawa, Talei, Ravulo, Koyamaibole.

Samoa: Williams, Tagicakibau, Pisi, Mapusua, Tuilagi, Pisi, Fotuali’i; Taulafo, Schwlger, Johnston, Leo, Thompson, Tuifua, Faasavalu, Stowers.

Samoa continue to dominate… but have thus far failed to capitalise on their dynamism. They’ve just allowed an attacking three-on-one in the middle of the park get away from them, allowing Fiji to regroup and force a scrum.

After spinning the ball wide to their left wing, Samoa’s progress is halted by the men in white (Fiji, d’uh). Indiscipline at the breakdown, however, leaves Pisi with another kick on goal. The fly-half makes no mistake, slotting his effort from just inside the half-way line.

Samoa 12-0 Fiji

Fiji are enjoying their first real spell of possession in the game, going through the phases and attempting to build momentum. Their endeavour is rewarded with a shot on goal.

Seremaia Bai pushes his effort wide of the posts.

Fruitless though it was, Fiji have been buoyed by their most recent spell of possession and rampage forward again in search of that first score. The ball is lost forward in contact and Samoa clear their lines, punting the ball out of play.

Fiji, in keeping with the overall tone of their first-half performance thus far, sacrifice their lineout advantage by throwing a crooked delivery… and Samoa are back in control.

Confusion amongst the Fijian ranks forces Deacon Manu to knock the ball forward. The ball just bounced off the prop, who was caught entirely unawares… elementary errors are costing Fiji any sense of continuity or rhythm at the moment.

A lightening fast pick-and-go from Fiji nearly succeeds in breaking the Samoan line, but the ball is forced out of play. Having failed to turn their early dominance into a convincing points advantange, Samoa are in danger of allowing complacency to undermine their efforts.

Pisi pops the ball out of play…

Half-time: Samoa 12-0 Fiji

Samoa started positively, but after coming away from the Fijian 22 with little more than a couple of penalties, they’ve allowed frustration to compromise their fluency.

Fiji, on the other hand, may well be encouraged by the scoreline– they could well have conceded a trio of tries early on and, as the half progressed, succeeded not only in frustrating their opponents, but threatening the Samoan line on a number of occasions.

Little gets us back underway.

Faasavalu, who looked dazed after taking a mammoth hit before half-time, hasn’t re-emerged. He’s been replaced by Salavea.

Williams spills the ball on the edge of his own 22, leaving Fiji with the perfect platform from which to launch an attack. Their scrum is an abysmal one, however, and they’re immediately penalised. A waste.

Murimurivalu sprints into the brick wall that is Seilala Mapusua and holds on to long on the ground.

A Samoan penalty is the result and Pisi, granted his first opportunity of the half, makes no mistake.

Samoa 15-0 Fiji

That score pulls Samoa two scores clear of their Pacific island rivals: a momentum-killing score…

Fiji look far from despondent, however, and, building impressively on a superb line-break from Talei, leave themselves with a scrum a couple of metres short of the Samoan line. The scrum, though a good one, disintegrates at the worst possible moment, exposing the ball to an enterprising Samoan forward who, scarcely believing his luck, pops the ball back to Pisi. The fly-half, under pressure from all sides, tosses the ball to Tagicakibau, who biffs a kick down the line.

*deep breath*

Johnston has been replaced by Perenise. He looked well and truly out of puff.

Pisi skims a clever kick into touch, bringing play into the Fijian half for (pretty much) the first time this half.

Seconds after Tuilagi demonstrated his formidable strength by refusing to go down under the combined weight of– ten? twelve?– Fijians, Nalaga conjures an opportunity out of nothing on the Fijian left wing. For a second, it looked like he had yards to spare, but a moment of indecision allowed Pisi to make the crucial tackle.

Tuilagi shows he’s not just some sort of crude, unthinking beast by popping a clever little box kick over the Fijian defensive line. Confusion ensues, the nett result of which is another Samoan penalty.

Pisi shoots a slow-motion, Zoolander stare in the direction of the posts before blasting a comically poor effort… in the direction of the right touchline. Oh dear.

Seconds later, the mortified fly-half makes a desperate drop goal attempt, but it misses on the same side.

Won’t someone think of the fans! Give us a try, lads.

Try for Samoa! Fotuali’i seizes on a split-second of inattention from the Fijian defence to slide over on the left wing. The move looked to be dead, but the scrum-half had othe ideas.

Pisi can’t convert, but no matter: Samoa have a twenty-point lead.

Fiji have made a few substitutions: Vulivuli has replaced Bai; Nasiga, Qera, Buatava and Luveniyali are also on.

Try for Fiji! It appears the Fijian substitutions have had the desired effect. Lovobalavu (who is not a sub, I know) threaded the needle of the Samoan defence and was immediately supported by Luveniyali and Vulivuli. A couple of phases later, Talei is released into the right corner.

The conversion is there. Do we have a game on our hands?

Samoa 20-7 Fiji

Try for Samoa! Some imperious running from Williams leaves Samoa with a two-on-one on the left wing. After glancing to his left, the full-back arcs a pass into the arms of George Stowers, who trots over unopposed.

Williams then guarantees the maximum return.

Samoa 27-7 Fiji

Paulo, Samoa’s replacement hooker, gets the wrong side his man and takes a (large) thigh to the face. He hits the ground hard and struggles to maintain consciousness. A golf cart is immediately dispatched from the sidelines…

… dazed but conscious, he’s driven  down the tunnel. Phew.

Jeremy Sua, legs a-blur, carves his way through the Fijian line, but the peep of the ref’s whistle brings play to a halt. Obstruction.

Murimurivalu slips a tackle and accelerates towards the Samoan line. He’s soon brought to ground, but Fiji retain possesion…

… until the next phase, that is.

Samoa’s line-clearing kick is a loose one, however, and leaves their opponents with the space and time to launch a final charge in the direction of the right corner. They’re forced out of play.

Nasiga crosses the line, but Fiji are denied a last-minute try by the TMO, who spots a double movement. George Stowers, standing on the refs shoulder as the verdict is delivered, can be seen clapping enthusiastically.

The ref’s arm is raised and it’s all over…

Full-time: Samoa 27-7 Fiji

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