Samoa A will head to New Zealand for the next stage of the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup 2012 in confident mood after beating Queensland A 24-8 to end the Australian series with a perfect record of three wins.
The Ballymore match would determine who topped the Australian standings after both won their previous matches, Samoa A against the Super Rugby development teams the Brumby Runners and Junior Waratahs and Queensland A over Tonga A and Fiji Warriors.
A tight battle was expected but despite Queensland A opening the scoring with a seventh minute penalty by fly half Dallan Murphy, the remainder of the first half saw Samoa A stamp their authority on the match to establish an 18-3 lead.
Titi Jnr Esau kept the score board ticking over with two penalties before captain Misioka Timoteo touched down the night’s opening try. Esau missed the conversion, but made no mistake a second time when Maselino Paulino scored Samoa A’s second try.
Samoa A lost two players to the sin-bin within a minute of each other early in the second half and within minutes Queensland A seized on their two-man advantage to cut the deficit to 18-8 through flanker Teretani Postal.
However, that was as close as the home side got in a match which saw three further yellow cards, two of them to Samoa A, with two further Esau penalties ensuring the victory for the Islanders.
Samoa A have accumulated 12 points on their Australian travels, failing to pick up a try-bonus point in any of their wins. They head the standings among the core teams with Fiji Warriors second on nine points and Tonga A third with two points.
Four-try win for Warriors
Fiji Warriors, the defending champions, picked up what could later prove to be a crucial bonus point in the title race after scoring three second-half tries against the Junior Waratahs to win 30-15 at Foreshaw Rugby Park in Sydney.
The Junior Waratahs had started strongly and led 15-6 approaching the half hour mark after tries from scrum half Grayson Hart and centre Peter Betham, the latter storming through the Warriors’ defence with ease to score under the posts.
Betham’s score seemed to finally jolt the defending champions from their slumber and they cut the deficit to two at the break after a solo effort from Metuisela Talebula, the fly half slicing through the defence.
The second half picked up where the first had ended with the Warriors on the front foot, building pressure well and prepared to run from within their own half, forcing the Junior Waratahs to scramble in defence and ultimately create gaps out wide.
Paula Tiko capitalised on one such opportunity when he darted through a gap in the 54th minute to give the Warriors the lead for the first time in the match, one they were not about to let slip.
The home side were unable to match the Warriors’ enthusiasm and physicality at the breakdown, allowing the Fijian backline to launch attack after attack. Full back Samisoni Viriviri touched down just past the hour and it was left to Talebula to score the fourth try.
The other match scheduled for the weekend, between the winless Brumby Runners and Tonga A at Griffith Oval on Sunday, was cancelled due to inclement weather in the area. Under tournament rules, the match is recorded as 0-0 with both sides earning two points.
The Pacific Rugby Cup continues on Friday when Fiji Warriors face the Crusader Knights in Christchurch and Tonga A tackle the Blues Development team in Pakuranga, with Samoa A facing the Chiefs Development team on Saturday in Pukekohe.